Tesla maintained its lead in Electric Vehicle (EV) sales throughout 2023

Its grip on the market is facing intensified competition. While uncertainties loom over the immediate future of the EV industry, certain startups are thriving, with China’s BYD standing out prominently. Established automotive companies are cautious about the challenges looming in the electric car sector, yet EV-focused startups such as Rivian and Tesla are successfully retaining their customer bases.

Tesla’s global deliveries amounted to approximately 1.8 million units last year, securing the top position in Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales worldwide for the California-based manufacturer. However, despite Tesla’s notable figures, Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams (BYD) outpaced all by selling over 3 million BEV and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) models in 2023.

Established automakers have been signaling concerns about EV sales in recent months, resulting in production cutbacks and delayed deliveries in the United States. Nevertheless, EV startups like Rivian and Tesla remain committed to electrification across all markets.

An analysis of sales figures from various startup manufacturers presents a varied picture for 2023. While Tesla, BYD, and Rivian experienced prosperous outcomes, shortcomings were evident for other players. Tesla emerged as the clear winner in global battery-electric vehicle sales for the year, boasting significant growth. The company reported delivering 1,808,581 units in 2023, with the bulk of sales attributed to the Model 3 and Model Y, although specific figures for each model weren’t disclosed.

This growth represents a remarkable 38 percent increase for Tesla compared to the previous year, coupled with a reported 35 percent surge in production from 2022. Tesla claimed to have achieved its production targets for 2023, having manufactured nearly 500,000 units in the fourth quarter alone.

BYD also exceeded expectations, selling 1.6 million battery-electric vehicles and 1.4 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2023, totaling 3.02 million vehicles. This marked a notable 62 percent year-on-year increase for the Shenzen-based automaker, with a more diversified sales distribution across its lineup compared to Tesla.

In the U.S., Tesla faced changes in the pricing and eligibility for tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Certain Tesla Model 3 units, particularly rear-wheel-drive and Long Range variants, no longer qualified due to revised battery sourcing requirements stemming from the company’s reliance on Chinese materials. Additionally, Tesla’s new Cybertruck was reported to be ineligible for the $7500 tax credit based on current U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines, despite Tesla’s claim of potential eligibility.

On the other hand, Rivian, another American all-electric vehicle manufacturer, anticipated its dual-motor models for 2024 to be eligible for $3750 in tax credits for U.S. buyers. However, Rivian fell short of its projected fourth-quarter delivery target of 14,430 units, managing to deliver 13,972 vehicles, indicating a 10 percent decline from the previous quarter but overall growth for the year.

Despite this shortfall, Rivian surpassed its annual forecast by producing 57,232 units in 2023. With plans to focus on sub-$80,000 dual-motor versions of its R1S and R1T, Rivian aims for these models to constitute over 50 percent of its sales in the upcoming year, eyeing steady growth.

While BYD might not be a major player in the U.S. market, its rapid global expansion and increasing significance in Europe position it as a company to closely monitor. Meanwhile, Tesla appears poised to maintain its dominance in EV sales globally and in the U.S., particularly as traditional automakers like General Motors and Ford slow down their EV initiatives.

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