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How Tesla and its Chinese competitor compare, in 4 charts

In 1995, metallurgy graduate Wang Chuanfu founded BYD, a small Chinese company focused on producing rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries more cheaply than Japanese competitors.

Nearly 30 years later, the Shenzhen-based firm has become the world’s leading manufacturer of electric vehicles (EVs), even surpassing American giant Tesla (TSLA) in global sales of pure-play electric cars in the last quarter of 2023.

But the two companies are still running neck and neck, with Tesla regaining its crown in the first quarter of 2024.

Here’s how they compare, in four charts:

Most valuable carmakers

Tesla stock was priced at $17 a share when it listed in June 2010. Nearly 14 years later, the company’s shares trade above $166, giving it a market capitalization of about $560 billion, making it the most valuable car company in the world. It’s also among the biggest companies globally by market value.

As for BYD, its $81 billion market cap places it among the top 10 automakers in the world, according to Murthy Grandhi, business fundamentals analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company in London.

Still, it trails far behind Tesla and other car makers like Toyota (TM) and Stellantis (STLA), a conglomerate created from the 2021 merger of French PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The group sells cars under 14 brands, including Chrysler, Citroën, Jeep, Maserati and Peugeot.

But BYD has already surpassed BMW and Ford (F) and is catching up to Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari (RACE).

Tesla is the most valuable car company in the world

Elon Musk’s Tesla became the world’s most valuable automaker in 2020 and has kept the number one spot since then. Second place Toyota, while comfortably ahead of its other rivals, still has a long way to go before it can dethrone the American giant.

Top 10 largest automakers by market capitalization, in billions of dollars

In 2023, Tesla sold around 230,000 more cars than BYD. But the gap has been narrowing from 400,000 in 2022 and 600,000 in 2021.

And in the last quarter of 2023, BYD hit a major milestone: selling more battery electric vehicles (BEVs) than Musk’s company did globally, due in part to a slowdown for Tesla in one of its biggest markets, China, and to a general deceleration in demand for EVs.

However, the Chinese company stumbled in early 2024. It sold only 300,114 BEVs in the first quarter, down from the 525,409 it sold in the final three months of last year.

That drop was big enough for Tesla, which sold 386,810 BEVs in the same period, to retake its former position despite posting plunging sales.

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