[New York Post, Getty Images]
Tesla’s commanding lead in the electric vehicle market is shrinking, according to sales figures released this week by Warren Buffett-backed Chinese automaker BYD.
BYD revealed that it sold a whopping 641,350 “new energy vehicles” — or full-battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids — in the first six months of 2022, according to a company filing. That sales figure marked an increase of about 314% compared to the same period one year earlier.
BYD sold more than 134,000 vehicles in June alone, according to the release.
By comparison, Elon Musk’s Tesla sold 564,743 vehicles during the first half of 2022 — a tumultuous period in which the company scrambled to overcome a lengthy shutdown at a key production plant in Shanghai and other supply chain-related disruptions.
Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway held a 7.7% stake in BYD as of April that was worth more than $9 billion. The company spent $232 million to acquire its initial stake in the Chinese firm in 2008.
Musk said in May that he expected some “very strong companies” to emerge from China and provide stiff competition for Tesla in the electric vehicle sector in the years ahead.
However, the Tesla boss and world’s richest man was dismissive in a 2011 interview when asked about BYD’s product — literally laughing at the idea that it posed competition.
“Have you seen their car? I don’t think they have a great product. I don’t think it’s particularly attractive, the technology is not very strong,” Musk told Bloomberg at the time.
The Post has reached out to Tesla for comment.
Tensions between Musk and BYD seemed to have cooled as of June. One of the Chinese firm’s top executives described Musk as a “good friend” and said BYD was set to supply the firm with batteries “very soon,” Reuters reported.
Both BYD’s full battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are considered “zero emission” cars under China’s industry standards, the Financial Times reported. Hybrids use electric batteries as well as supplemental engines and traditional fuel sources.
Of the 641,350 vehicles sold by BYD during the first half of the year, more than 314,000 were hybrids. Conversely, all of Tesla’s 564,743 cars sold were full battery electric vehicles — meaning Musk still leads the world by that measure