Tesla Starts 2024 With Good News and Bad News

Tesla’s delivery numbers looked pretty good, until you compare them to those from up-and-coming Chinese rival BYD.

Photo of the interior of a Tesla car
Photo by Bram Van Oost via Unsplash

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We’ll see how being No. 2 sits with Elon. 

Tesla dropped its delivery results on Tuesday, and while it hit its targets for the year, the numbers also showed that its China-based rival BYD has just nosed out in front with its own delivery total. It’s a less-than-desirable start to 2024 for Tesla, but other American EV-makers are doing worse. 

Inside Lane

BYD already gained an edge over Tesla on vehicle production last year, but delivery numbers are the more important metric, and BYD clipped Tesla by almost 42,000 vehicles. BYD has a pretty chunky domestic market in China, where it sells roughly 90% of its cars, but more worrying for Tesla is the news that BYD is pushing for more international expansion this year. The company announced in late December that it’s building its first non-China-based EV factory in Hungary. That said, Europe won’t be an easy ride as EU chief Ursula von der Leyen launched a probe last year into China state-subsidized EVs.

Still, at least Tesla hit its own targets, plus Wall Street’s expectations. Fellow US EV startup Rivian woke up with a much worse New Year’s hangover:

  • Rivian’s fourth-quarter deliveries declined 10% compared to the previous quarter, down to 13,972 vehicles. Meanwhile, its production figures ticked up 7.5%.
  • That’s not an ideal combo when you consider that for every $80,000 truck Rivian made it was reportedly still losing $33,000 as of October last year.

2023 saw a big cash crunch for EV startups that aren’t run by Elon Musk, and Rivian’s tough start to 2024 could get a whole lot tougher.

Down to Truck: Notably absent from Tesla’s Q4 results were production and delivery numbers for the long-awaited and highly angular Cybertruck. After years of delays, Tesla delivered its first few Cybertrucks in November, but Bloomberg noted that the company didn’t break out the truck’s delivery numbers, but instead grouped it together with its Model S and Model X vehicles. Per Bloomberg, analysts are split on how many Cybertrucks actually made it to their owners last year, ranging from 200 to 5,000. For perspective, Ford sold more than 650,000 F-Series trucks in 2022.