The fourth quarter of 2023 was a turning point in the competition between the two largest all-electric car manufacturers (OEMs)—Tesla and BYD, which were already very close to each other in Q3.

As with every quarter, in this post, we will look at the global sales results of battery electric cars (BEVs) by three OEMs—Tesla, BYD, and Volkswagen Group.

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Global car sales surges

Global electric car sales consistently increase, while the best-selling models and brands change. In 2024, we may see BYD as the new market leader in sales volume.

Last quarter, Tesla delivered 484,507 all-electric cars, 20% more than a year ago. That's a new record, but not a high enough level to outpace the surging BYD.

The Chinese group (including other brands), sold about 526,409 all-electric cars. It's not only more than Tesla did, but also at a high growth rate of 60% year-over-year.

If nothing changes, BYD's higher growth rate, as compared to Tesla, will translate into higher sales results in the coming quarters.

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group increased its passenger all-electric car sales by 16% year-over-year to 238,544 units. This volume and growth rate are not high enough to think about beating Tesla or BYD anytime soon (it was the company's ambition a few years ago), so the German manufacturer must now watch its back to maintain its spot on the podium (SAIC, including SAIC-GM-Wuling, was not far behind in Q3).

All-electric car sales in Q4'2023 (YOY change):

Tesla vs. BYD vs. Volkswagen Group BEV Car Sales - Q4 2023

In 2023, Tesla sold more than 1.80 million all-electric cars, while BYD exceeded 1.57 million. The Volkswagen Group was at about half of BYD's volume, with almost 0.77 million units sold.

The main question is whether BYD will maintain its twice higher growth rate than Tesla, which potentially would allow it to beat Tesla in 2024.

The Volkswagen Group might be able to sell more than one million all-electric cars in a single year for the first time in 2024.

All-electric car sales in Q1-Q4'2023 (YOY change):

  • Tesla: 1,808,581 (up 38%)
  • BYD: 1,574,822 (up 73%) or 87.1% of Tesla's result
    Difference to Tesla: 233,759 (down 42%)
  • Volkswagen Group: 769,029 (up 35%) or 42.5% of Tesla's result
    Difference to Tesla: 1,039,552 (up 40%)

For reference, in 2022, Tesla delivered more than 1.3 million electric cars (an increase of 40% year-over-year), BYD sold over 0.9 million (up 184%) and Volkswagen Group over 0.57 million (up 26%).

We expect that BYD's growth rate will continue to decrease (the potential in China is not infinite, and exporting more cars is not easy), but probably will remain higher than in the case of Tesla. It might be a close race.

Info:

  • Tesla sales
  • BYD sales (including Denza) do not include commercial vehicles (trucks/buses)
  • Volkswagen Group includes Volkswagen (cars), Audi, Skoda, Porsche, Seat/Cupra, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (vans), but for the sake of comparison we excluded MAN, Scania and Navistar.
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