The company referred to as Tesla without the drama can now be called Tesla with more sales and less drama. The final quarter of 2023 marked a significant milestone as BYD, a Chinese automaker, surged ahead of Tesla in EV sales. BYD sold an impressive 526,409 fully electric cars, eclipsing Tesla's delivery of 484,507 vehicles. We saw this coming after the third quarter, and if projections hold, Tesla will not be regaining the EV crown anytime soon.
Tesla’s fourth quarter was impressive; deliveries were up 38% year over year, and production was up 35% year over year. Plus, the company sold more Model S and Model X than it has during any quarter in the past five years. However, for a company that has projected 50% year-over-year growth and has been the unquestioned king of the EV sector, this performance falls a little flat, and it’s allowed one of the bigger threats to catch up.
BYD's performance in the fourth quarter was nothing short of extraordinary, with a record sale of 942,651 vehicles. This figure included a 55% share of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and 45% of Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). Notably, BYD transitioned away from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles in April 2022, focusing entirely on electric and hybrid models.
The Competition is Here
The origins of BYD trace back to its foundation as a battery company, later expanding into automobile manufacturing in the mid-2000s. With the backing of notable investor Warren Buffet, BYD has often been paralleled with Tesla; however, the two companies differ significantly in their product offerings and business strategies. Tesla adopts an online direct sales model, whereas BYD leverages a vast dealer network for both its international expansion and dominance in its domestic market. BYD has demonstrated a commitment to nurturing its dealership network, a model often perceived as outdated.
The competition between BYD and Tesla is set to intensify in 2024. BYD is venturing into areas previously dominated by Tesla, such as self-developed autonomous driving systems and a direct sales model. This shift is evident in establishing two new EV brands, YangWang, and Fang Cheng Bao, which adopt direct sales strategies and expand their own sales networks. Fang Cheng Bao launched 154 showrooms and direct-operated stores in 84 cities in 2023, while YangWang aimed to open 90 stores in 40 cities by the year's end.
Conventional Cars in Demand
In contrast to Tesla's focus on advanced autonomous driving capabilities and high-tech interiors, BYD's vehicles feature more traditional interiors, emphasizing physical buttons and conventional design. The company's research and development primarily centers on battery technology, striving to offer high-quality vehicles at reasonable prices.
BYD's approach to business is characterized by vertical integration. The company, led by founder and CEO Wang Chuanfu, controls the entire production chain, from lithium mining to battery manufacturing, vehicle assembly, shipping logistics, and even car insurance. This strategy mirrors Tesla's approach to some extent, with both companies prioritizing cost efficiency and affordability.
For the year 2023, BYD's total electric vehicle sales soared to 3,023,679, a 62% increase from the previous year. Of these, 1,574,804 were BEVs. Conversely, Tesla delivered 1,808,581 vehicles in 2023, marking a 38% increase from 1,313,851 in 2022.
Despite BYD's impressive annual performance, Tesla maintained its lead in cumulative sales for the year. However, projections suggest BYD is poised to continue as the leading EV manufacturer in 2024.
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Tesla's reintroduction of the Model 3 Performance continues to inch closer, and just like the refreshed Model 3 and the Cybertruck, every peek gives us some more hints and builds more excitement. A recent observation of a partially covered Tesla Model 3 Performance prototype revealed the new Sport seats designed for improved comfort.
Posted on X by Nic Cruz Patane, the upgraded Model 3 Performance was sighted in Santa Monica, where the vehicle's engineering prototype displayed minimal window tinting, offering a sneak peek at the vehicle's improved seating. The Sport seats, resembling dedicated racing bucket seats, significantly depart from the current Model 3 seating options.
Sport Seats Coming to Other Models?
Tesla's initiative to incorporate Sport seats into the Model 3 Performance hints at broader plans to equip its high-performance models, including the Model S Plaid, Model X Plaid, and Model Y Performance, with similar seating options. This move will elevate the driving experience across Tesla's performance vehicle range.
These seats were also spotted a few weeks ago by enthusiast Fidel Grandez. Initially thought to be designated for the Model S Plaid, these Sport seats have found their rightful place in the Model 3 Performance, aligning with Tesla's vision for a performance-focused yet more affordable electric sedan.
New Wheels and Front Lip
In addition to the seats, the Model 3 Performance is rumored to showcase a suite of enhancements. Another angle gives a little bit of an outline of the new front lower splitter. Other aesthetic and functional upgrades include "Warp" 20-inch wheels, advanced braking systems, and revised suspension components.
Tesla has been testing the Model 3 Performance prototypes for a few months, signaling that initial production could be underway in North America. This step is crucial as Tesla aims to reintroduce the Performance trim to the market, having temporarily removed it from their lineup. The reintroduction is timely, considering the evolving landscape of EV incentives in the United States. While the official launch date remains under wraps, anticipation builds for the Model 3 Performance's debut, expected in the first half of 2024.
Kim Kardashian showcased her Cybertruck with the caption "cool carpool mom" to her 364 million followers on Instagram. The A-list celebrity and billionaire is well known for her knack for staying at the forefront of trends, making this one image a powerful endorsement for Tesla. The picture of one of the most influential celebrities of our time picking the Cybertruck as her distinctive vehicle speaks volumes about the brand's penetration into popular culture and its appeal to a broad demographic, including those who value style, innovation, and sustainability.
The Power of Celebrity Influence
Kim Kardashian's influence cannot be overstated. Her every move is watched and often emulated by fans around the globe. Her journey from reality TV star to billionaire entrepreneur has been marked by a series of successful ventures in fashion, beauty, and technology investments, making her a model of modern business acumen. Kardashian's ability to turn personal endorsements into significant trends is unparalleled, making her engagement with Tesla's Cybertruck a notable moment for the company.
Kardashian's influence extends far beyond mere product endorsement. Her strategic use of social media to connect with her audience has transformed how brands interact with consumers. She creates a personal connection that can sway consumer behavior by sharing her life, interests, and choices, including her vehicle preferences. Her endorsement of the Cybertruck can significantly enhance Tesla's brand visibility and desirability, particularly among consumers who may not have previously considered an electric vehicle.
The Celebrity Cybertruck list is growing
Pharrell, Lady Gaga, Jay Leno, and now Kim Kardashian.
Kardashian has recently joined the exclusive circle of celebrities seen driving the Cybertruck, a group that boasts names like Pharrell, Lady Gaga, Jay Leno, and not to forget Elon Musk himself (who, aside from being Tesla's CEO, commands a staggering following of over 370 million on X). Each of these stars wields significant influence, captivating audiences that range from thousands to millions globally.
Sustainability Meets Style
Moreover, Kardashian's endorsement comes at a time when the importance of sustainable living and eco-friendly choices is increasingly recognized. Her choice of an electric vehicle over traditional gasoline-powered cars sends a strong message about the importance of environmental responsibility, aligning with Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. This alignment boosts Tesla's brand and promotes a broader cultural shift towards sustainability.
In the context of celebrity endorsements, Kim Kardashian's showcase of the Tesla Cybertruck is a masterstroke. It merges the worlds of entertainment, technology, and sustainability, highlighting the evolving nature of brand-consumer relationships in the digital age. Tesla's innovative approach to vehicle design and its commitment to sustainability is amplified by Kardashian's endorsement, illustrating the power of celebrity influence in shaping consumer preferences and driving societal trends.
Ultimately, Kardashian driving a Cybertruck and branding herself as a "cool carpool mom" is a significant endorsement for Tesla, enhancing the brand's visibility, appeal, and alignment with sustainable values. In an era where brand success is increasingly tied to social influence and cultural relevance, Tesla's association with Kardashian can only be seen as a positive development, driving the brand further into the mainstream consciousness and reinforcing its position as a leader in the shift towards a more sustainable future.
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