After a disappointing first quarter, BYD may relinquish the title of top EV seller to Tesla.

After taking the crown from Tesla last year, China's BYD may relinquish it in the first quarter of 2024 due to a 43% drop in sales compared to the fourth quarter of 2023.

The number of electric vehicles sold by BYD fell 43% from 526,409 in the prior quarter, when the company overtook Tesla, to 300,114 in the first quarter of this year, according to a filing with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange made late Monday. The year-over-year increase in first-quarter sales was 13.4%.  

Despite the quarterly decline, Visible Alpha analysts expect record sales of 458,500 vehicles in the quarter ending March 31, thus Tesla could reclaim the sales crown. Wednesday will mark the release of Tesla's first-quarter sales report.  

Softer demand generally and a slowdown in the Chinese market, where local rivals led by BYD increased the ante in a pricing war for customers, caused Tesla's Q1 projection to fall more than 5% from the previous three months.  

Despite predictions of a slowdown in growth in Chinese EV sales this year, Tesla's return to the top spot in sales shows its worldwide influence will not be easily contested. The fact that BYD's domestic price decreases led to its brief supremacy is also shown. China Passenger Car Association data showed that Tesla sold 89,064 vehicles built in China in March, an increase of 0.2% year-over-year.  

The stock exchange report revealed that BYD sold 626,263 units of all vehicle types in the first quarter, which was a 13.4% year-over-year increase. However, this was a 33.7% decrease from the fourth quarter, when the company set a record with 944,779 units sold.  

The 302,459 automobiles sold in March was a 46% increase from the previous year and the company's second-highest monthly sales total. With 341,043 units sold in December, BYD set a new monthly record. There was a 56.4% increase to 161,729 plug-in hybrid sales and a 36.3% increase to 139,902 sales of its fully electric cars in March.  

Since February, BYD has slashed prices on its newest lineup by 5%-20% compared to older versions, in response to the pricing battle that Tesla began in China early last year. Citing sources, Reuters reported last week that BYD has set a sales target for 2024 of 3.6 million units, which is a 20% rise from its record-breaking sales last year.  

View for more updates