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Did BYD really overthrow Tesla as the biggest maker of electric vehicles? It depends

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A rumored headline earlier this week (including here on ValueWalk) was that BYD, a Warren Buffett-backed Chinese electric vehicle maker, had taken the title of the world’s largest electric vehicle maker from Tesla. However, there is an important distinction to point out that might change some people’s perspective on the matter.

Clarifying the headlines about Tesla and BYD

Tesla delivered just over 250,000 vehicles in the second quarter, marking its first quarter-over-quarter decline in two years after the lockdown-related closure of its Shanghai factory. That total brought the California electric vehicle maker to 564,742 electric vehicles in the first six months of the year.

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Meanwhile, BYD reported 638,157 electric vehicle deliveries for the first half of the year, but that included plug-in hybrids. In our Tesla/BYD history article, we mentioned that BYD’s issue included plug-in hybrid vehicles, which combine a traditional internal combustion engine with a battery typical of electric vehicles.

However, Electrek added that nearly half of the vehicles that BYD classifies as “electric” are plug-in hybrids. The tech blog argued that this fact means Tesla remains the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles.

Is the difference justified? Or just cut hair?

There is no doubt that plug-in hybrids are a transitional technology that will become obsolete when enough all-electric vehicles offer long enough ranges to allow fast charging, road trips and journey times similar to those offered by gasoline vehicles. . Therefore, it is important to distinguish between all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

However, many government agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, group “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles” (PHEVs) with all-electric vehicles. Therefore, some may wonder whether it is important to distinguish between all-electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles at this point.

One thing that’s critical to understand about PHEVs is that many of them can only go about 20-40 miles on their batteries alone before they start using gasoline. While this is fine for those who don’t travel far from home, it’s a key issue for those taking road trips.

Of course, all-electric ranges on PHEVs increase, but they are still far from those offered by all-electric vehicles. In fact, Tesla cars are known for their exceptional range, typically over 300 miles on a full charge. As a result, it’s easy to see why EV enthusiasts would be angry at plug-in hybrids being lumped in with all-electric vehicles.

As to whether they really should be categorized into one group, it all depends on your point of view.