BYD EV sales rise in Q1, but is it enough to stay ahead of Tesla?

China’s leading electric car maker, BYD, recorded over 300,000 EV sales in Q1 2024, up 13% over last year. Is it enough to maintain its lead over Tesla?

BYD EV sales rise 13% in Q1, down sequentially

After topping Tesla in the last three months of 2023, BYD is doubling down in 2024. In the first three months of the year, BYD sold 300,114 fully electric vehicles, up 13.4% over Q1 2023.

BYD’s electric vehicle production also rose 9%, with 291,730 EVs built in Q1. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid sales were up 14.5%, with 324,284 PHEVS sold. Overall sales reached 626,263 in Q1, representing 13.4% growth YOY.

Despite EV sales rising over 13% year-over-year (YOY), they were down from the over 526,400 sold in Q4 2023.

BYD sold 302,429 new energy vehicles (including PHEVs) in March, a 147% increase from February. This includes 301,631 passenger cars and 828 commercial vehicles.

BYD’s Dynasty brand accounted for 286,712 (+151% MoM), Denza recorded another 10,279 (+123% MoM), Fang Cheng Bao delivered 3,550, and its ultra-luxury Yangwang brand sold 1,090 vehicles in March.

Q1 2023 Q2 2023 Q3 2023 Q4 2023 Q1 2024
BYD EV sales by quarter 264,647 352,163 431,603 526,409 300,114
BYD EV sales by quarter

BYD launched its first model under the Yangwang brand, the U8, with prices starting over $150,000 (1,098,000 yuan). The brand launched its first electric hypercar, the U9, in February, with prices starting at $233,000 (1,680,000 yuan).

On the other side of the spectrum, BYD’s low-cost Seagull was its third top-selling model with 34,830 units handed over in March, up 158% MoM.

Yangwang U8 (Source: BYD/Yangwang)

BYD also sold 38,434 vehicles overseas last month, topping its old record of 36,174 from January. Overseas NEV sales reached 97,899 in Q1, up 156% YOY.

Although Tesla has yet to report Q1 delivery numbers, estimates are all over the place. Yet, they are still consistently higher than the 300K BYD sold.

Wall St has consistently cut Tesla’s Q1 2024 delivery estimates over the past few weeks. Most recently, Wedbush lowered its forecasts to 425,000, down from 475,000. As Electrek reported last week, we’ve found first-quarter delivery estimates between 420,000 and 480,000.

BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) launch in Brazil (Source: BYD)

The average Wall St consensus is around 458,500. If true, Tesla will take back the title of global EV leader.

Electrek’s Take

Despite fierce competition and an aggressive price war in China, BYD continues selling more EVs. EV sales slipped sequentially, but this is a common trend in China, with sales traditionally peaking at the end of the year before slowing in Q1.

With several big Q1 EV sales reports due out this week, including Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, and GM, we should get a more transparent look at the overall EV market.

Will BYD maintain its lead over Tesla? We will find out shortly. If estimates are accurate, Tesla will take back its title.

Meanwhile, BYD doesn’t see Tesla as the competition. The automaker launched a “liberation battle” against gas-powered cars as it continues stealing market share from legacy automakers.

With a series of more affordable “Honor Edition” electric cars, including the new Seagull starting at only $9,700 (69,800 yuan), BYD looks to carry the momentum into 2024.

BYD says new energy vehicles (including PHEVs) have entered the “knockout round” as it continues growing its overseas footprint.

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