Recent comments from Yunfei Li, general manager of branding and public relations at BYD, have suggested that the Chinese electric vehicle maker regards its biggest American rival as a key ally in the transition to sustainable transportation. This was despite BYD overtaking Tesla as the world’s largest electric car company in late 2023.
BYD sells new energy vehicles, which comprise both battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Most of the company’s vehicles are designed for the affordable, mass-market segment, though BYD also has vehicles such as the Han premium sedan that directly compete with popular electric cars like the Tesla Model 3.
Considering the fact that BYD is now the world’s largest EV company, it was no surprise that a narrative has formed suggesting that Tesla and BYD are bitter rivals. As per Li, however, this is not the case, as BYD considers the American electric vehicle maker to be a respected colleague in the electric vehicle sector. Li also clarified that Tesla is also an important client of BYD.
“Tesla is our very respected industry peer. It is also our client,” Li said, adding, “I think this market is very large. It’s not that we must surpass them, or they must surpass us. Instead, BYD and Tesla together, or more new energy vehicle brands together, we need to think about how to increase the new energy vehicle ‘cake.’”
Tesla and BYD’s relationship has evolved over time. During the days of the original Tesla Roadster, CEO Elon Musk mocked the Chinese automaker’s electric vehicles. In more recent years, however, Musk has expressed his respect for BYD, noting on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the company is “highly competitive.”
Similar to the BYD executive, Musk also confirmed BYD as a supplier for Tesla. While addressing an inquiry about the company’s 4680 battery cells during the Q4 and FY 2023 earnings call, Musk noted that Tesla is extremely appreciative of its suppliers.
“We are very appreciative of our suppliers. You know, Panasonic, obviously, is our longest supplier. They’re an amazing company. You know, we — we’ve got CATL, we got, LG, you know, and BYD,” Musk said.
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