Major automakers have been expressing concerns about Electric Vehicle (EV) sales in recent months, leading to production cutbacks and delayed deliveries in the United States. Despite this, EV startups such as Tesla and Rivian remain committed to electrification on a global scale.
An analysis of year-end sales data from these startup manufacturers reveals varied results. While 2023 proved to be prosperous for companies like Tesla and China’s BYD, it highlighted deficiencies for others. Notably, Tesla emerged as the clear winner in global battery-electric vehicle sales for 2023.
Exclusively offering true battery-electric vehicles, Tesla experienced substantial growth in 2023. Breaking from tradition, the company disclosed its full global sales figures, reporting a total of 1,808,581 deliveries for the year. Of these, an impressive 1.74 million units were either Model 3 or Model Y, although the specific split between these models was not detailed.
This represents a notable 38 percent year-over-year growth for Tesla, with the company citing a 35 percent increase in production compared to 2022. Tesla claims to have met its projected production targets for 2023, producing nearly 500,000 units in the fourth quarter alone.
Chinese manufacturer 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 marks a remarkable 62 percent year-over-year increase for the Shenzen-based automaker, establishing it as the leading seller of electrified vehicles globally.
In contrast to Tesla, BYD’s sales are diversified across its lineup, with the BYD Song compact crossover leading December sales, particularly in plug-in hybrid variants. Other models like the BYD Seagull EV and BYD Yuan also performed well, with 50,525 units and 41,681 units sold in December, respectively.
Tesla and BYD face different circumstances in the U.S., where updated provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act are expected to raise the prices of certain Tesla Model 3 units due to new battery sourcing requirements. Additionally, Tesla’s new Cybertruck may not qualify for the $7500 tax credit. In contrast, Rivian’s dual-motor models for 2024 are eligible for $3750 in tax credits, although the company fell slightly short of its projected fourth-quarter delivery target.
Rivian, having delivered 13,972 vehicles in 2023, fell approximately 500 units short of its fourth-quarter goal. Despite this, the company exceeded its annual production forecast, manufacturing 57,232 units. Rivian anticipates continued growth, aiming for the sub-$80,000 dual-motor versions to represent over 50 percent of its sales mix in the coming year.
While BYD may not be a significant player in the U.S. market, its rapid global expansion and increasing relevance in Europe make it a noteworthy contender. Meanwhile, Tesla appears poised to maintain its position as the global and U.S. leader in EV sales, especially as traditional manufacturers like General Motors and Ford face challenges in accelerating their EV initiatives.