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Elon Musk nods to biggest EV competition after Tesla's 7% decline in third-quarter: 'Their cars are highly competitive'

"Competition is always good for the growth and advancement of technology."

“Competition is always good for the growth and advancement of technology."

Photo Credit: iStock

Tesla's 7% quarterly decline in electric vehicle deliveries gave Chinese automaker BYD some competitive legroom — and now Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called the Warren Buffett-backed company a formidable opponent.

Tesla reported 2023 third-quarter deliveries of about 435,000 vehicles, falling short of Wall Street expectations of 455,000. Overall, the company produced 430,488 cars during the quarter. Most of these were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.

This was a production decline from the previous quarter's 480,000 vehicles. In a statement, Tesla said the decrease in production was due to downtimes because of necessary factory upgrades.

Meanwhile, BYD delivered 431,603 fully electric EVs in the third quarter, inching closer to Tesla. The company sold almost 950,000 fully electric EVs in 2022 compared to Tesla's 1.3 million.

Though Tesla is widely considered to be the global leader in EV production, a number of other companies are stepping up to the challenge. And the more the merrier — EVs release far fewer planet-warming gases than traditional cars and are an important part of the equation when it comes to transitioning to a cleaner transportation model. 

Plus, greater competition will likely drive more tech innovation and greater affordability for consumers. 

A decade ago, Musk laughed aloud when asked if he considered BYD a competitor. He has since changed his tune, tweeting, "That was many years ago. Their cars are highly competitive these days." 

Tesla is also embroiled in an EV pickup rivalry with Rivian. Tesla even alleged in 2021 that at least 40 of its former employees had stolen battery technology and shared it with Rivian. 

Meanwhile, EV startup Lucid Motors is aiming to stake its claim in the market with the Lucid Air Sapphire, which it calls a "luxury electric super-sports sedan."

Though it seems that many companies would love to catch up to Tesla, "Chinese automakers are the most competitive in our experience," Musk tweeted.

In response, one person tweeted: "Competition is always good for the growth and advancement of technology. If Chinese automakers can maintain a line between the environment and technology it will be incredible."

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