BEIJING: US automaker Tesla sold 94,139 China-made electric vehicles (EVs) in December, a 68.7 per cent increase from a year earlier, China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) figures showed on Wednesday (Jan 3).
Deliveries of China-made Model 3 and Model Y cars were up 14.2 per cent from November.
Chinese rival BYD, with its Dynasty and Ocean lineup of EVs and petrol-electric hybrid models, delivered 341,043 passenger cars in December, up 13 per cent from November and a 45 per cent jump year-on-year.
BYD had a record quarter with sales of 944,779 new energy cars in the fourth quarter, including 526,409 pure EVs.
Tesla’s numbers took its China-made sales, which include exports, to 947,742 for the full year, accounting for 52.4 per cent of the US EV pioneer’s global deliveries.
Tesla’s Shanghai plant, its biggest globally, is capable of making 1.1 million units of Model 3 and Model Y cars a year and besides China also serves countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
Worldwide, Tesla delivered a record 484,507 cars in the fourth quarter, beating market expectations, but was dethroned by BYD as the top EV maker.
Tesla faces mounting competition in China, the world’s largest car market, where a bruising price war and slowing EV demand has not inhibited Chinese latecomers from venturing into the arena.
In China, Tesla kicked off a price war at the start of last year that drew in more than 40 brands and gave a blow to industry profitability.
While a BYD-led sales push continues with different discounting policies, the US EV giant put a hold on price adjustments in the Chinese market in December after making five upward price revisions in the prior month.
Toughening up the EV race, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi unveiled its first EV last week, hoping to become one of the world’s top five automakers over the next 15 to 20 years.
Huawei, one of Xiaomi’s closest Chinese phone rivals, has asked Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen’s Audi about smart car investments, Reuters has reported.
Tesla has purchased land in Shanghai for a megapack battery manufacturing plant with production expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2024. That suggests slower-paced progress on the project than it had planned originally.
Tesla’s ambitious plans to expand its EV capacity in Shanghai, its biggest production hub globally, still hinges on China’s regulatory approval.