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Tesla Is No Longer The World's Largest Seller of EVs

Elon Musk's company has just lost its crown to a rival backed by billionaire Warren Buffett.
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It's a dream poster: Elon Musk versus Warren Buffett. 

The new big boss of the business world against the Oracle of Omaha. 

The richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of $210 billion as of July 4 by Bloomberg Billionaires Index against the seventh richest man in the world with a fortune of $96.4 billion. 

One of the most respected and innovative serial entrepreneurs against one of the most adored and influential investors.

We could go on with superlatives. But for their first long anticipated match advantage goes to Buffett.

Indeed, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has just, through a company in which he invested, dominated the CEO of Tesla on a point that will hurt especially in terms of prestige.

BYD Motor, a Buffett-backed electric vehicle maker, is now the world's biggest seller of electric vehicles, surpassing Tesla  (TSLA) . The Chinese firm sold 641,350 new energy vehicles in the first six months of the year, from January 1 to June 30, according to company filings with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Tesla for its part delivered 564,743 vehicles over the same period, including 254,695 units in the second quarter, the firm said on July 2. Musk's firm has been slowed by the resurgence of Covid-19 in China, which forced Tesla to temporarily close its Shanghai factory for several weeks. Shanghai was responsible for half of Tesla global production in 2021.

BYD Sold 76,607 More Vehicles Than Tesla

Still, BYD is experiencing a phenomenal rise: the vehicle manufacturer's sales have jumped 314.9% in one year. The group had sold only 154,579 vehicles in the first six months of 2021.

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The Chinese vehicle maker, founded in 2003, has sold a total of 76,607 vehicles more than Tesla, which had held the top spot in terms of electric vehicles for many years.

BYD is taking advantage of Beijing's political will to push consumers to individually reduce their CO2 emissions. By the way, BYD's factories have not been affected by the lockdown as they are based in less dense areas like Shanghai.

The Chinese manufacturer, however, has a big scandal that could thwart its plans in the future. Authorities in Hunan, a mountainous province in southern China, have opened a pollution investigation against the company after residents complained of vomiting and difficulty breathing, according to news reports. Residents also say that one of BYD's factories in the region has caused nosebleeds in hundreds of children, according to Bloomberg.

Pending the results of this investigation, BYD seems to have its revenge on Musk and Tesla. In 2011, when journalists tried to present BYD as a Tesla rival, Musk burst out laughing

"Have you seen their car?” the billionaire asked during a Bloomberg News interview on November 15, 2011 when asked about BYD Motor.

"I don't think they have a great product," Musk added.  "I don't think it's particularly attractive but technology is not very strong. And BYD as a company has pretty severe problems in their home turf in China. So I think their focus is and rightly should be on making sure they don't die in China."

Another sign of BYD's success is that the company could become a Tesla supplier very soon.

"We are now good friends with Elon Musk because we are preparing to supply batteries to Tesla very soon," said Lian Yubo, BYD's executive vice president in an interview with Kui Yingchun, an anchor with China's state-owned broadcaster CGTN, last month.

Tesla has never commented on these rumors.