In 2011, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, was asked about the potential competition posed by China’s electric vehicle manufacturer BYD. Musk dismissed the idea, making a joke about BYD’s cars. However, a lot has changed since then. Tesla has become the most valuable automaker globally, dominating the electric car market. Nonetheless, BYD has also emerged as a major player in the automotive industry, particularly in China.
Presently, BYD outsells Tesla in terms of the sheer volume of New Energy Vehicles (NEV) in China. It is important to note that BYD’s numbers include hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, unlike Tesla’s all-electric lineup. Additionally, Tesla vehicles are generally priced at a premium, giving BYD’s more affordable NEV options an advantage in the Chinese market.
Despite these factors, Musk recently expressed his appreciation for BYD on Twitter. Responding to a video of his 2011 interview about BYD, Musk clarified that his sentiments were from a long time ago. He acknowledged that BYD’s cars are now highly competitive and impressive.
Musk’s recognition of BYD’s accomplishments is significant, considering that BYD is arguably Tesla China’s biggest competitor. It could be inferred that the rise of BYD as a dominant force in China’s NEV sector might be one of the reasons why Tesla is now striving to launch its next-generation platform. This platform aims to enable the production of electric vehicles that are more affordable than Tesla’s current offerings, such as the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover.
While Musk occasionally makes jokes about his rivals, he also acknowledges their achievements. Over the years, he has shown support for non-Tesla electric vehicles, including the Porsche Taycan, which competes with Tesla’s Model S. Musk praised the Taycan in 2019, stating that it seemed like a good car and performed well at the Nurburgring. He has also endorsed the Mustang Mach-E, even though it directly competes with Tesla’s Model Y.