Tesla's sales were terrible — but they were still enough to retake the EV lead from BYD

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Tesla's sales were terrible — but they were still enough to retake the EV lead from BYD
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.Sebastian Gollnow/Getty Images
  • Tesla just regained its title as the world's top electric car maker.
  • China's BYD said on Monday that sales plummeted to 300,000 for the first three months of 2024.
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It's been a nightmarish start to 2024 for Tesla — but the car maker finally got a sliver of good news on Tuesday.

Elon Musk's company reclaimed its title as the world's top EV seller when it reported its quarterly delivery numbers on Tuesday — just three months after losing the top spot to BYD.

Tesla sold just under 390,000 EVs in the first three months of the year, falling well short of the 477,000 figure that analysts were expecting.

The disappointing figure still comfortably cleared its Chinese rival, though. BYD said on Monday it sold about 300,000 vehicles over the same period, representing a 43% decline from the last three months of 2023.

Both companies have struggled this year amid signs that drivers are souring on electric cars and instead opting for cheaper hybrids.

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Before Tuesday, Tesla's stock price was down about 30% year-to-date, in a sell-off that's reduced its value by some $230 billion. The slide has caused some to question whether Musk's company deserves its spot in the "Magnificent Seven" group of mega-cap tech stocks.

Shares fell another 6% at the opening bell as investors reacted to the weaker-than-expected delivery numbers.

Meanwhile, BYD's Hong Kong-listed shares have slipped 6% in 2024, dragged down by the Warren Buffett-backed company missing its annual profit targets.

Investors also worry that the company could eventually lose market share to rivals, including Xiaomi, which just launched its first EV.

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