Image Credit: Reuters

Tesla and BYD, two of the world's leading electric vehicle (EV) makers, have faced speedbumps. In the first quarter of 2024, Tesla reported 386,810 deliveries, marking an 8.5 per cent drop compared to the previous quarter.

Despite the decline, Tesla has once again emerged as the top EV maker globally, as revealed by the latest data.

BYD, China's largest EV manufacturer, faced a more significant sales slump, with 300,114 EVs sold in Q1 2024 — a staggering 43 per cent drop from the fourth quarter of 2023.

This has led to a shift in the quarterly sales crown, and signifies the dynamic and evolving nature of the EV market.

The figures were obtained from the companies' quarterly reports and regulatory filings. BYD disclosed its first-quarter sales in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, a notable decline from the record high of 526,409 units sold in the preceding quarter.

However, this figure still marked a 13.4 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.


The quarterly numbers show a slow start to the year. Tesla released it first-quarter sales figures Tuesday, showing its first annual drop in sales since 2020 amid the growing EV competition.

When reckoned over the last three years, data shows EV sales of both BYD and Tesla have grown exponentially.

Notably, BYD grabbed headlines by surpassing Tesla in total EV production, with 3.02 million new energy vehicles in 2023 (from 183,000 in 2020), compared to Tesla's 1.84 million in 2023 (from 499,550 in 2020).

The rivalry between Tesla and BYD underscores the growing economic significance of electrification, with 10 million pure battery EVs sold in 2023, a 31 per cent jump from 2022.

The decline in Tesla’s Q1 sales compared to the previous quarter is attributed to softer demand and a slowdown in the Chinese EV market. There were other challenges: an arson attack in Giga Berlin, retooling of Giga Texas and the Red Sea diversions. Its Megapack installations offered a bright spot, hitting a new record at 4.05 GWh in Q1 2024, and is expected to overtake the EV business.

And given the Q1 EV sales drop, Tesla has reclaimed its title as the leading EV maker.

Price war

Its competitors, spearheaded by BYD, intensified the battle through a price war aimed at attracting new buyers.

Tesla's resurgence in sales underscores its formidable global presence, suggesting that its dominance won't be easily challenged.

Both Tesla and BYD anticipate a deceleration in Chinese EV sales growth this year. BYD's brief period of dominance was fueled by domestic price reductions.

The price war persists, with BYD selling a total of 626,263 units of all vehicle types in the first quarter, a 13.4 per cent increase year-on-year. However, this figure represents a significant drop of 33.7 per cent from the previous record high in the fourth quarter.

March, however, saw a notable spike in sales for BYD as sales of its electric models surged, with a 36.3 per cent year-on-year increase, while plug-in hybrid sales rose by 56.4 per cent.

Tesla's March delivery

Tesla released its first-quarter vehicle production and deliveries report for 2024 on Tuesday, revealing the 8.5 per cent decline in deliveries compared to the same quarter last year and approximately a 20 per cent dropfrom the previous quarter. Here are the notable figures:

  • Total deliveries in Q1 2024: 386,810 (from 422,875 in Q1 2023)
  • Total production in Q1 2024: 433,371 (from 440,808 in Q1 2023)

Tesla experienced a 1.7 per cent year-over-year decrease in vehicle production and a sequential decline of 12.5 per cent. Tesla's shares dropped about 5%, from $173.54 on Monday to $164.82 as of 11am Tuesday.

While Tesla does not provide a breakdown of sales by model, it disclosed that it manufactured 412,376 Model 3/Y cars and delivered 369,783 of them. Additionally, it produced 20,995 of its other models (X, Y, Semi and Cybertruck) and delivered 17,027.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Tesla reported 484,507 deliveries and production of 494,989 vehicles.

Responding to the price war initiated by Tesla in China last year, BYD has slashed prices on its latest vehicle models by 5 per cent to 20 per cent since February.