Tesla deliveries from China plant jump, but BYD races ahead in the country

HONG KONG-

Tesla Inc.

TSLA 3.38%

had a big jump in shipments from its Gigafactory in Shanghai in August after upgrading its assembly lines, but the US electric car maker continues to lag behind its Chinese rival

BYD Co.

1211 -3.05%

in the largest automotive market in the world.

Tesla China’s deliveries from the plant that makes the Model Y and Model 3 totaled nearly 77,000 last month, nearly tripling from July and up 74 percent from a year earlier, according to data released Thursday by the China Automobile Association . More than 42,000 of those shipments were exports, the association said.

Tesla took about 12 percent of China’s wholesale new energy market in August, behind a 16 percent share for BYD’s clean electric vehicles. The US giant dominated China’s new energy car market but lost ground to Warren Buffett-backed Shenzhen-based BYD, which makes several popular battery electric as well as plug-in hybrid models.

Despite massive production losses in April due to a prolonged Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai, Tesla shut down its factory again for several days in July to upgrade assembly lines in an attempt to ramp up production and make up for lost production. In July, Tesla said the plant could produce more than 750,000 cars a year after the improvements.

The plant’s last record for deliveries was in June, when about 79,000 cars produced there were sold. It delivered an average of about 61,000 cars a month in the first quarter of the year before being hit by disruptions during China’s worst Covid outbreak in April.

Tesla has recently been cutting delivery wait times to the current maximum of 14 weeks for Chinese consumers, according to its Chinese website.

China’s passenger car market maintained growth with 1.87 million cars sold at retail in August, up 29 percent from a year earlier and up 3 percent from July.

Tesla’s factory in Shanghai produces Model 3 cars like the one shown in Beijing this month.


picture:

FLORENCE LO/REUTERS

Of all vehicles produced in China, more than 30% are electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

While overall sales and production levels showed strong momentum in the market’s recovery, it was also unusual for there to be fewer cars produced in August than in July, said the association’s general secretary Cui Dongshu.

Growers typically produce more in August for increased demand in the fall. This year, some production capacity was disrupted by Covid restrictions and regional heatwaves.

BYD continued its recent market surge, breaking its own sales and production records last month and leaving other automakers in the rearview mirror.

The company sold almost 83,000 pure electric cars as well as 92,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in August, totaling 175,000 sales, according to a statement. Plug-in hybrids contain both a small battery and an internal combustion engine and are considered new energy vehicles that would qualify for tax exemptions and subsidies in most places.

Despite rapid growth in sales and earnings, BYD’s share price has fallen 18% since last Thursday after stock filings revealed that its most prominent backer, Mr. Buffet – from last year sold part of the shares in the Hong Kong-listed shares of the Shenzhen carmaker held by his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

BYD also signed a deal with Thai industrial property developer WHA Group to set up an EV factory in Rayong on Thailand’s east coast. The new plant, which will add to BYD’s production base in China and the bus factory in California, is expected to deliver 150,000 passenger electric vehicles in 2024, according to a statement from WHA group.

Power shortages in southwestern China’s Sichuan province disrupted Toyota production; factory workers in 2016


picture:

Associated Press

Domestic Chinese brands posted a 41% increase in August compared to last year with 850,000 vehicles sold, while foreign joint ventures sold 770,000 vehicles, an 18% increase.

Several foreign car joint ventures, including those involving Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., had production interrupted by power shortages in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, caused by a prolonged period of drought and a heat wave not seen in six decades.

The Toyota plant with FAW Group Co. in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu stopped work for a week last month. However, including vehicles produced at the joint venture’s other plants, the joint venture still managed to sell 81,4000 vehicles in August, up 7% from the previous month. The Chengdu factory was keeping production lines at reduced levels using an internal generator for electricity, a company spokesman said in late August.

The effects of the current restrictions were limited and temporary, the association said last week. Auto assembly plants and component manufacturers were able to resume normal operations after the region saw rainfall and falling temperatures.

As Chengdu came under Covid restrictions last Thursday, Toyota said it was operating at normal levels under government guidance, which required some industries to continue operations by keeping workers living and working in a closed loop. Volkswagen’s plant in the city also operates under similar arrangements, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

China is offering tax breaks and other incentives to buyers of new energy cars, which were recently extended until the end of next year, designed to counter a sharp economic slowdown that has dampened consumer demand.

Write to Selina Cheng c [email protected]

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