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See Why Tesla Scares The Legacy Players

Mase Goslin, whose previous graphs we have highlighted, has compiled a new time series graphic of EV sales in the US, this time by brand. This more clearly shows Tesla’s rise to absolute dominance of the US EV market, crushing all other players and accelerating off over the horizon. EVs are the future, and Tesla is the undisputed market leader, especially in the US, but also globally. If you’re an automaker on the wrong side of this trend, it must be terrifying!

Mase Goslin, whose previous graphs we have highlighted, has compiled a new time series graphic of EV sales in the US, this time by brand. This more clearly shows Tesla’s rise to absolute dominance of the US EV market, crushing all other players and accelerating off over the horizon. EVs are the future, and Tesla is the undisputed market leader, especially in the US, but also globally. If you’re an automaker on the wrong side of this trend, it must be terrifying!

Many thanks to Mase Goslin for the great visualization. Of course, this is just the US, which is by no means the largest EV market (or overall auto market) globally. Of existing global automakers, only BYD (with a mix of BEVs and PHEVs) is close to Tesla on current sales volume of EVs. According to the figures from our sales guru Jose Pontes, 2018 saw Tesla sell 245,000 EVs globally, with BYD selling 227,000 (103,000 BEVs) and BAIC in 3rd place, some way off the leaders, with 165,000. BMW, selling mostly PHEVs, finished in 4th place with 129,000 units and Nissan, despite its historically early lead with the LEAF, only managed 97,000 units (ranking 5th). Here’s the top 10 graph for 2018:

2018 Global EV Sales by Brand

So far in 2019, Tesla and BYD remain in the same positions. Tesla produced 77,100 vehicles in Q1 (although, it was still shipping many of them at the end of the quarter, with completed sales of 63,000). BYD sold 71,232 during Q1. That puts Tesla ahead on production, but behind on deliveries. It’s worth bearing in mind that, whilst BYD is delivering mainly within its home market of China, Tesla is delivering to many markets all around the world, with several weeks of shipping time from the US to Europe and East Asia.

The two companies’ relative performance is about where it was in 2018. Tesla’s 2018 sales were 7.9% ahead of BYD’s, and its 2019 Q1 (production) was 8.2% ahead of BYD’s Q1 (sales). Both are growing strongly in 2019 and appear to be pulling ahead of the rest of the pack.

Recent changes to China’s new energy vehicle (NEV) policies are causing a resettling of the Chinese market, with efficient EVs now being prioritised. BYD is in a good position to take advantage of this, and we can still expect strong growth of China’s EV market over the year as a whole (likely between 1.8 million and 2 million sales in total), with the usual outstanding growth in Q4. BYD seems set to maintain its position as the leading Chinese brand.

Tesla Model S (from Tesla Video)

Tesla appears to be on track to have record production volume in Q2 2019, with a recent apparently leaked email by Elon Musk noting Model 3 production already at 900 units per day and tracking to 1,000 per day in the near future. Model S and Model X sales seem likely to pick back up towards historical rates now that their powertrain has been refreshed, and the “Standard” versions are back on sale (after being unavailable during almost all of Q1).

There can be no doubt that Tesla is leading both the US EV market and the overall global EV market. BYD is doing very well in China and is quickly shifting its older fossil fuel vehicle production lines over to EV production. There’s a lesson in there for other legacy automakers — BYD shows that an auto company can pivot from fossil vehicle production to EV production, where the will exists. It’s worth noting that all of Tesla’s EVs are full battery electrics, whereas around 40% of BYD’s EV sales are plug-in hybrids (although, the company is gradually increasing its full electric focus).

Don’t believe the negative hype about questions over demand for or production volume of Tesla’s vehicles. All this negativity is pushed out by media friends and financial friends of legacy automakers and fossil fuel companies. Tesla is being targeted in this way precisely because it is leading the EV revolution and succeeding in disrupting powerful incumbents. With the world in climate crisis, and the global auto market moving rapidly towards electrification, Tesla (along with BYD and others) is on the right side of history.

 
 
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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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