In 2023, Tesla could experience one of the worst years of its existence, which the Chinese mock

The year 2023 should be decisive for the electric car and more specifically for Tesla. Elon Musk’s brand remains the industry leader for now, but its position may change in the coming months. The company is indeed ridiculed from all sides, but especially from China. Decryption of the situation.

The Chinese Tesla Model 3 Performance, distinguished by its 19-inch rims

Since the launch of the Model S in 2012, Tesla has been the leader in electric cars worldwide. In 2022, Elon Musk’s company broke all records, whether in terms of production or sales. In France, in Europe, and even in many countries, the Model 3 or the Model Y rose on many occasions as the best-selling electric car of the month, of the quarter, or even of the year. But the tide can turn.

Tesla in the sights of BYD

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Tesla sold 405,000 electric cars. It’s huge and it’s a record. But the world number 2 in electric cars, the Chinese giant BYD, is coming in very strong. The company has sold more than 329,000 electric cars. But the progress was huge: it was only 143,223 units in the first quarter of 2022, when Tesla had already sold 305,407. And if we consider plug-in hybrids, BYD sold more than 680,000 cars in the last quarter of the year.

Sale You are here BYD volkswagen
First quarter 2022 305 407 143 223 99 100
Second quarter 2022 254,695 180 296 118,000
Third quarter 2022 343,000 258,618 149,300
Fourth quarter 2022 405,000 329,000
Total 2022 1,308,102 911 137

In detail, in December, BYD sold 235,197 electric cars (mostly in China). Tesla does not provide a monthly figure, but it is known that the Shanghai plant saw 55,796 cars roll off its production lines in December 2022, compared to 100,291 cars the previous month and 71,704 unit in October.

Problem with demand?

This is one of the reasons why many industry experts believe that Tesla has a demand problem in China. That’s why we’ve seen a lot of price cuts and giveaways from Tesla. The latest was this week, with historic price drops in China. The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 have never been that cheap.

However, the problem seems to be moving abroad as well, as Tesla has also made some gifts to Europeans and Americans in recent weeks. But Elon Musk’s company has denied any demand problems. In China, Tesla explained that this price drop was made possible by production line optimization. This will also explain the sharp drop in production in December, which will make it possible to reorganize the factory.

Photo of the Berlin Gigafactory // Source: Tesla

So we’ll have to wait a few months to find out if Tesla really has a demand problem or not. But the American brand should not rest on its laurels. In China, upon its arrival, the American manufacturer was seen as an innovative and revolutionary brand. This is less the case today, with many local manufacturers offering more innovative electric cars.

1,000 km range and charge in 5 minutes

We can mention the Zeekr 001, from the Geely group, which is the first electric car to incorporate the new CATL battery, the Qilin CTP 3.0. His particularity? Offer a range of 1,000 km on the Chinese CLTC cycle, thanks to its exceptional capacity of 140 kWh (but high consumption). We suspect Tesla has done this, with its 4680 battery (which is late) and the Tesla Model S Plaid+, which has been canceled. The reason: no one needs a car with more than 600 km of autonomy according to Elon Musk. And the man doesn’t make mistakes, as long as the car recharges quickly.

And certainly, on the question of fast charging, Elon Musk presented in 2013, a Tesla Model S capable of “charging” in 3 minutes, thanks to the replacement of the battery. It’s faster than a full tank of gas! But the brand has since abandoned the idea… which was taken up by Chinese manufacturers. And this is no longer an idea, but a reality, in China and also in Europe where there are already 10 battery exchange stations, thanks to Nio. We also tested the function, which is very nice and fast.

Beyond the battery change, while the v3 Supercharger can reach a peak power of 250 kW, it is rumored that the v4 Supercharger can reach 350 kW. But this figure pales in comparison to Geely’s 600 kW or Nio’s 500 kW. It’s enough to charge an electric car from 10 to 80% in just 10 minutes. Provided you have an 800-volt architecture, which Tesla’s electric cars don’t have. Except for the Tesla Semi, but it’s an admittedly revolutionary electric truck.

BYD’s European offensive

Unfortunately for Tesla, competition in Asia is not limited to these technological demonstrations. In France, the Chinese giant BYD took advantage of the Mondial de l’Auto in its 2022 edition to arrive in the country with three electric cars: the BYD Atto 3, BYD Han and BYD Tang. These cars are quite disappointing in terms of technical specifications if we compare them to Teslas. But their aggressive price positioning may hurt other manufacturers in the long run.

A few days ago, BYD launched its new premium brand, YangWang. In the program: luxury cars, which contain all the best in terms of technology. We are entitled to an electric supercar, the YangWang U9, but above all an electric 4×4 that competes with the Tesla Cybertruck, Land Rover Defender and Mercedes EQG: the YangWang U8, with more than 1,000 horsepower and advanced that technology.

Remember when Elon Musk announced a few months ago that the Cybertruck could be used as a boat on bodies of water? Well, BYD pulled the rug out from under Tesla’s feet with an impressive demonstration: its YangWang venturing into a deep lake, while regaining solid ground by floating, aided by four motors this.

Autonomous driving: Tesla’s secret weapon?

On the autonomous driving side, Tesla currently remains the undisputed market leader, although it is gradually falling behind, especially by Mercedes, which is the first manufacturer to offer a car with level 3 autonomous driving, thanks for this 100%. electric EQS.

But Chinese manufacturers do not intend to be left behind. Zeekr proved it again recently thanks to its partnership with Mobileye (Intel) and Waymo (Google). But this is also the case of the manufacturer Xpeng, whose cars are sold in Norway, working on autonomous driving similar to Tesla’s FSD (Full Self-Driving).

And of course, for now, Tesla’s FSD autonomous driving is only available in the United States. Other countries should do Autopilot, which is level 2 driving reserved for expressways and highways. Where FSD is a feature that can be activated everywhere, including in complex city centers.

2023: a decisive year for Tesla

Tesla is equipped with weapons that will allow it to maintain its leadership: highly developed autonomous driving, cars with record efficiency and the most developed network of charging (Superchargers) in the world. But its future hangs by a thread, because the Chinese threat is real and not just localized. Chinese manufacturers have the will to attack the European market, but also the American for a long time.

To curb this offensive, Tesla needs to strike hard, and not just with price cuts. The American manufacturer must regain its level of innovation in the past, and catch up on certain elements, such as very fast charging (and notably this involves the 800-volt architecture) and more affordable cars.

Exactly, Elon Musk’s company will announce some details on the brand’s third electric platform in March 2023. It is rumored that it will be the basis of the future Model 2 and the autonomous robotaxi. Many think Tesla’s compact electric car might look like Foxcon’s Foxtron Model B.

Foxtron Model B
Foxtron Model B

2023 could also be the year when Tesla becomes the first manufacturer to put an electric car on the podium of the best-selling cars of the year worldwide, all engines combined. Even better, the Tesla Model Y could become the best-selling car of the year, surpassing the Toyota Corolla that currently holds the title.

Elon Musk’s company has this ability, because if its factories run at full speed, 2.5 million electric cars can be produced every year. Compared to 3 million electrified cars (rechargeable hybrids and electric) that BYD can produce every year.

What if Tesla deploys FSD in China to return to being the country’s innovation leader? This can certainly enable it to outpace the local competition. It is hoped that the COVID, which will return to China, will not hinder the plans of Elon Musk’s company. Like his antics on Twitter. The year 2023 therefore promises to be decisive for Tesla and Elon Musk.

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