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Tesla Losing EV Race as BYD Speeds Ahead to Become New Market Frontrunner

BYD is the new Tesla.

In a surprising Karma-calling moment, BYD made a huge leap and became the world’s largest carmaker. Elon Musk once laughed off the possibility of ever competing with former first, Tesla. Now it looks like Wang Chuanfu, CEO of BYD, would not stop before making the company go to the top.

Does this mean Tesla is not the one with the crown? Nope. Tesla is still the number one electric car maker but for how long is entirely another question. However, the once lesser-known BYD is now making a big name for itself in the world of electric vehicles.

BYD’s rise to success did not come overnight but with very thoughtful and intelligent planning and execution. The Chinese automaker is making headlines worldwide and is doing remarkable work. Here’s everything we know so far.

BYD World's Largest Electric Car Company

BYD Vs Tesla Or Wang Chuanfu Vs Elon Musk

The change in who is selling more has a lot to do with how different the CEOs are. Elon Musk is a household name and is more popular for his eccentric demeanor. Now, Wang Chuanfu might not ring a bell for many. Even in China, he’s not exactly stealing the spotlight from the famous like Jack Ma or the entrepreneurial guru, Kaifu Lee.

Elon Musk, the richest man globally, says that high-interest rates make it difficult for potential customers to buy a Tesla. However, the bigger gap that Musk is trying to fill with a budget-friendly Model 2 Tesla has still been under wraps for a long time.

Meanwhile, Wang’s throwing a budget-friendly bash with half a dozen models that won’t break the bank and are easily within reach. His company has several models that more people can afford, and they cost much less than Tesla’s cheapest Model 3 sedan in China.

Both CEOs’ social media presence is also poles apart, where Elon Musk is quite a vivid expression and Chuanfu would rather stay away from the limelight.

Chuanfu is an orphan who comes from the poorest parts of China and has a keen sense to cater to affordable needs. Now a billionaire, Chuanfu is becoming a popular CEO having a strong presence in over 60 countries.

BYD Seal vs Tesla Model 3

Rise of BYD

Chuanfu first came up with the cellphone battery company BYD at 29 years of age with his cousin Lu Xiangyang. In just four months of its inception, the company had a working office and factory.

BYD did not stand for anything in the early days according to Chuanfu but they had a clear strategy in mind: mass-producing only winning products but at the lowest possible costs. BYD was later given two nicknames:

Bring Your Dollars
Build Your Dreams

Launched in 1995, the cellphone battery company BYD was already dominating the battery market by 2002. The biggest change came when Charlie Munger, the legendary investor showed interest in BYD.

Early Entry

Charlie Munger originally gave the investment money to a value investor, Li Lu to start Himalaya Capital but he bought a stake in BYD. Munger once called the investment as “fiddling money” but that initial investment brought BYD international investors attention.

BYD bought a failing local company Qichuan Motors in 2003, giving the company its automobile entry. The. The only good that BYD could use from acquiring Qichuan was the automobile manufacturing license.

Wang has this big vision to tap the Chinese auto market potential but BYD’s investors were not that pleased at the time. Chuanfu has a strong sense and confidence in reverse engineering virtually anything which made him leap BYD auto.

The legend goes that he bought the 50 best brands of used cars to master making cars and developed a strong love and admiration for Toyota, the Japanese automaker giant. BYD’s first car looked almost the same as the Toyota Corolla, later made fun of for copying the looks to that extreme. A trait quite common among Chinese car makers, copying the famous carmaker’s designs. We recently covered how Xiaomi made a believable version of Porche Taycan. Read more about it here.

Anyways, BYD auto came into existence in 2003 but Elon Musk came into the automobile scene only in 2004. So, technically saying Chuanfu has been making cars since before Elon.

BYD EV Lineup

The road to a big line-up for 18 models was not an easy feat for Warren Buffet’s backed BYD as they saw quite a few setbacks and hurdles. Two of which could nearly end the automaker into ashes. BYD took its own sweet time to master quality before quantity to fish out cars with a brand value.

Following are the popular models sold by BYD:

  • BYD E5
  • BYD Song Pro
  • BYD Atto
  • BYD Dolphin
  • BYD Seal
  • BYD Tang
  • BYD Song Pro
  • BYD E1
  • BYD S2
  • BYD Qing
  • BYD Full New
  • BYD Qing Super
  • BYD Yuan

BYD Global Presence

Wang Chuanfu’s life revolves around only one grand pursuit – building his baby BYD into a successful powerhouse. BYD isn’t just his life’s work; it’s his very existence.

Unlike other tech tycoons who dabble in rockets, social media, or various side investments, Wang’s sole focus is his company BYD. Even on the personal front, his rumored life partner is said to be Stella Li, a key player in BYD’s early days who now heads BYD Americas.

Wang is facing a new challenge now, different from fixing business problems or competing with Tesla. It’s a big, long-term problem involving countries working together. It needs more talking and less technical stuff, which might not be Wang’s strong suit. But, considering he started as an orphaned kid, success might not be expected, but it’s worth knowing his name in the West, long overdue.

Why BYD Can Make Bigger Headlines Than Tesla?

BYD is not afraid to unlearn to learn how to make EVs with the best possible features at the lowest price points. Unlike Tesla, BYD is not looking to lock horns on unrelated political or social subjects.

Chaunfu’s passion is fueled by his love for his country as he recalls two not-so-humbling trips to US and UK where he was asked if he would surely leave the country or not. He wants to bring back respect to Made in China tags.

BYD’s success in the EV market is based on its strategic focus on diversification and accessibility. With an extensive portfolio of over 18 models available in China, BYD has captured various segments, including minivans, “city cars,” delivery vans, utility vehicles like garbage trucks and street sweepers, dedicated taxi platforms, school buses, city buses, coaches, and more – a range of offerings that Tesla currently lacks.

This diversification allows BYD to tap into markets and consumer needs that may not be addressed by high-end electric vehicles alone.

For instance, BYD’s introduction of the affordable $13,000 city car, the Seagull, is a game-changer.

With 74 HP, a top speed of 81 mph, and a range of 190 miles, the Seagull provides an affordable and practical option. Seagul is an amazing choice for students, individuals needing a budget-friendly grocery car, low-income families, and city drivers.

BYD has tons of ideas and capabilities to mass produce affordable EVs in record times, something Tesla has been struggling since.


The Chinese automaker BYD surpassed Tesla to claim the title of the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer by volume. In 2023, BYD managed to deliver an impressive 526,400 units of all-electric vehicles, outpacing Tesla’s 484,500 units in the same period.

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, initially dismissed BYD as a serious competitor but will now rethink its competitor’s strengths against him. The Chinese automaker, once underestimated, has gradually emerged as one of the major players in the global electric vehicle segment.

It would be rather uncanny to see how the Chinese automaker expands into the American market to capture the true American spirit that Tesla and other popular carmakers can achieve. What are your thoughts on BYD winning American minds?

Purnima Rathi
Purnima Rathi
Purnima has a strong love for EVs. Whether it's classic cars or modern performance vehicles, she likes to write about anything with four wheels, especially if there's a cool story behind it.


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