China’s BYD Overtakes Tesla For EV Sales

The Eco Experts

BYD (Build Your Dreams) has overtaken Tesla as the top-selling electric vehicle (EV) producer.

In the final quarter of 2023, China-based BYD sold 526,000 battery-only cars, compared to Tesla’s 484,000, according to a report by The Guardian.

Beating Tesla is an impressive feat. The US company is a giant in the EV industry, and is very popular amongst consumers. In the UK, for example, the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3 were the top two most registered new electric cars in 2022, according to our latest EV statistics.

Adding to its appeal amongst green-tech enthusiasts is the fact that Tesla offers system integrations with its other green products, such as Tesla solar panels.

However, it’s too soon to tell if BYD’s superior sales this past quarter mean that Tesla’s hay days are coming to an end.

In the EV race, success hinges on which company can make the best batteries – ones with a long range and lifespan that don’t cost a lot to make.

These are good things for you, the costumer, since they translate to better and cheaper cars entering the market.

If you already own an EV, you might want to consider installing a home charger. Charging at home can save you around £467 a year compared to charging in public.

dark grey electric car plugged in to charge with grey office building in background

The race to find alternatives to lithium-ion EV batteries

China is currently leading the charge on producing alternatives to lithium-ion EV batteries.

For the past decade, lithium-ion batteries have been the standard for EVs, but they’ve become controversial owing to the human rights violations associated with mining cobalt, one of the core minerals used to make batteries. Among cobalt, lithium-ion batteries contain other expensive raw materials, another factor that’s pushing manufacturers to turn away from them.

One alternative that’s gaining popularity is the LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery. LFP batteries are more stable, and less expensive to produce than lithium ion ones. The downside is that they’re less energy dense, which means cars would either have a reduced range, or need a larger battery.

That hasn’t stopped Tesla from turning to them. The company announced it was switching to LFP batteries in 2021, and began using them in cars intended for the Chinese market in 2022. It’s estimated around half of Tesla cars worldwide now have LFP batteries.

The reason Tesla started with China is simple: currently, almost all LFP batteries are made in China, close to 90% according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI.

That’s why in 2023, roughly 95% of LFP batteries were used in EVs produced in China, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Of that share, 50% were used in BYD models, while 15% were used in Tesla cars.

LFP batteries are increasingly becoming the norm, but other innovations are on the horizon.

Hyundai patents all-solid-state EV batteries in US

South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai filed a patent for an all-solid-state EV battery with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USIPO) in December 2023.

Traditional lithium-ion and LFP EV batteries use a liquid electrolyte, while solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte, hence the name.

The driving theory behind the technology is that a solid electrolyte will produce a highly stable battery, that’s safer to use than one with a liquid electrolyte.

In June 2023, Hyundai’s CEO, Chang Jae-hoon, announced that the company was planning to develop its own batteries, including LFP, NMC (nickel manganese cobalt), and solid-state ones, in collaboration with two American companies, Solid Energy System and Solid Power.

This marks a shift away from both lithium-ion battery technology, and China-based battery manufacturers for the South Korean company.

It’s not the only one. The Japanese car giant Toyota has spent $13.9 billion USD on setting up a battery manufacturing plant in the US, and announced in September 2023 that it was developing both LFP and solid-state batteries to use in its cars in the coming decade.

It’s clear the popularity of Tesla’s electric cars won’t wane anytime soon, but innovations in EV battery technology from its competitors could dampen its appeal amongst consumers in the future.

As more people buy EVs, the UK government also needs to ensure there are enough public chargers to go around. It’s already failed to meet its 2023 target for rapid chargers on motorways, and there are still a few public charger deserts across the country.

In other EV news, BMW thinks EVs will overtake petrol cars in just a few years.

Written by:
Tatiana has written about multiple environmental topics, including heat pumps, energy-efficient household products, and solar panels. She is dedicated to demystifying green tech to make eco-friendly living more accessible.
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