Global #1 BEV maker may surprise you; comes out with safer batteries

Tesla has plants in the United States, China, and, in progress, Germany; the company dominates electric car (BEV) sales in the United States, beating Mercedes and BMW in overall USA sales as well. But it’s not the biggest BEV maker in the world.

2009 BYD plugin hybrid (PHEV) car

That honor goes to BYD, a Chinese company which sells not just electric cars but also plug-in hybrids, and full-size electric buses which are exported to other continents.

Electric cars are expected to grow in Chinese sales by over a third in 2023, reaching 9 million sales. Tesla has seen sales increase, but with competitors growing by leaps and bounds, has dropped to a 10% market share. One reason is because Tesla only sells two cars, a sedan and a crossover; the company recently slashed prices on both to try to regain momentum.

A recent commercial shows Tesla’s self-driving is unable to avoid humans and won’t stop for school buses.

While Tesla is fairly unique in its marketing claims for “full self-driving,” the CEO’s demand that the system rely solely on cameras has brought numerous crashes and criticism. In China, too, those who buy expensive cars often employ chauffeurs, so occasional “when the conditions are right and there are no school buses around” self-driving isn’t much of a selling point.

Three Chinese companies have similar systems (as do many other companies) which have better performance. Stellantis is slowly rolling out its own system, which like GM’s Super Cruise, performs well under certain conditions, and is marketed more realistically than Tesla’s AutoPilot. The rapid shift in China to BEVs has direct implications for Stellantis as it tries to retrench in the world’s largest economy; one competitive advantage for drivers attempting to cross the vast country may be hydrogen technology. Stellantis is unusual in engineering the same vehicles to be built with either batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.

Primary source: Automotive News

12 thoughts on “Global #1 BEV maker may surprise you; comes out with safer batteries”

  1. Hydrogen is a dead dog. Even “Blue” hydrogen is dead.

    As a fuel source – based on natural gas, it takes more electricity to make, than the fuel cell power plant could create to power the car. We might as well stop pretending, and just go EV.

    The other issue with blue hydrogen is, we will still have a whole bunch of new holes in the ground that the O&G industry has clearly shown they simply will not make right. Hello taxpayer funded cleanup?? Are you ready to pay to clean up the mess they made?

    And let’s stop pretending that burning hydrogen is ‘clean’. Given it’s most likely source, that isn’t going to fly either.

    The only plan for hydrogen is “Green Hydrogen”…… Sadly, it’s crickets on that front too. As it sits, solar powered desalinization is still beyond dream-state.

      • I don’t think it’s dead anyway. Lots of companies are working on using excess wind/sun energy to create hydrogen in fits and bursts. The technology is there, and it’s being commercialized. Doesn’t matter if it’s more energy intensive to do it that way when the energy would otherwise not be harnessed anyway.

        • I spent the weekend in the company of a couple of automotive engineers. Regardless of the transition underway to EVs, they seem to be of the opinion that it’s not a sustainable technology long term for society-wide adoption. They brought up hydrogen as being something that needs further development if we are going to continue as a society that is heavily dependent on personal automobiles. You are correct, Dave, that EVs do work in the right circumstances, and in fact are working in places where the use patterns dovetail well with the current state of the technology. I don’t know where that particular thread in the comments was, but I didn’t realize you were talking about buses and commercial vehicles. Yes, they will work just fine in those use cases. Whether or not they will work for everyday consumers is clearly something reasonable people disagree on.

    • I think electrolysis and desalinization could still prove to be feasible if fusion ever becomes a commercial reality. They’ve made some strides in the past year which is encouraging, although I expect we’re still quite a way from something they can commercialize. If we hadn’t based our fission designs on existing Naval technology, even that might have worked provided we had planned for the need to dispose of the byproducts. I’m not well schooled enough in nuclear power technologies to say if fission could still be a possibility going forward, but then again we’ve relied on fossil fuels which have serious downsides for so long, maybe we need to set our sights lower.

  2. Geoff,

    I couldn’t reply to you in line.

    I think 80% of cars and trucks today could be replaced by BEVs and the owners wouldn’t regret it. Keep in mind automotive engineers are human, like people in the tobacco industry, the firearms industry, the asbestos industry, and so on. It’s hard to see such a major change as being viable especially given how much needs to change. They are also being slammed with Exxon-funded FUD on one side and lyin’ Musk on the other.

    But I certainly agree with you and most others that BEVs are not a one size fits all. Hydrogen has to be developed both in production and in vehicles.

    The ideal for global warming would be to disrupt our insane reliance on personal cars in the US. There is an insane amount of low hanging fruit in mass transit and zoning and fixing the rail freight system and such. But we’ll never go there for whatever reason…

    (Rail freight is where we truly stink due to the terrible cheep management of the railways.)

    • As far as the reliance on personal cars in the US is concerned, we have a land use pattern problem that seems almost insurmountable. Mass transit works perfectly well in places like Chicago, NYC and other environs where the density is such that large numbers of people live within a short walk of a node on the transportation network. I have been to those places and know people who live in them. A friend from Chicago joined us this past weekend here in SE Michigan; she took Amtrak from her neighborhood to a friend’s place in western Michigan and then rode with them in their car to where we had gathered. (Once you get outside the megacity where mass transit works, you wind up in a car, sometimes for hundreds of miles, as is the case in NJ I’m sure.)

      Not as easily solved are the moderate to low density living environments like we have in the Detroit suburbs. (For reference, if you’ve ever taken a tour of SHAP, I’m within two miles of the site.) There are buses, but using them to get anywhere is extremely hit and miss, time consuming, and very inconvenient. With the near-death of our central city in the region, we would need people to voluntarily give up the space and comfort of low density suburban living and move to centralized places in order for mass transit to have a chance at working. I don’t think that genie goes back into the bottle easily.

      I am a Planning Commissioner in my city; density is an extremely hard sell to the community even though an increase in density is in our master plan. For at least five years we’ve encouraged an increase in density through mixed use, and we have overlay zones in the city dedicated to them. We follow our master plan and have booted out developments that weren’t in the spirit of the overlay zones. Even then, it doesn’t work. That’s not to say it cannot, but our experience so far has been that people will take their developments elsewhere sooner than comply. So I have a hard time seeing how mass transit takes over in my lifetime, or in the lifetimes of my children, but that is a long time and who knows?

      I am not completely opposed to the idea that the personal automobile is a problem for society, but I am filled with practical concerns every time someone even half-jestingly suggests that we abolish them. My neighborhood is not walkable in the same sense that, say, the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle I visited in December is walkable. There you have a grocery store, many restaurants, retail stores, doctor’s offices, hotels, employers, you name it, all within about a 15 minute stroll. And this pattern repeats over and over throughout Seattle; everyone can theoretically get by without a car if they so desire, and ride sharing apps can get you to places you can’t walk to. If my part of the world is ever to look like that, I imagine it will take many decades to transition, even if we have the population growth here to support it, which seems unlikely.

      So I think we have to figure out how to make the personal automobile work. And I don’t think the idea of processing tons of earth just to mine enough metals for batteries is a good long term play. I don’t know what the economics are of supplying power via an electrical grid embedded in the roads would be, but at first blush that seems like a possible option. Hydrogen is expensive and needs careful handling but it seems like we could solve some of the problems relatively soon. I think BEVs have their place, but they are being oversold as *the* solution to the problem, and I think a lot of companies are going to lose money when reality sets in. I worry about GM overextending itself and the consequences of another bankruptcy. Anyway, you get the picture.

      • Well, one thing we could do is change zoning so we stop creating massive sprawl, and indeed so we stop making it mandatory! It’s kind of insane that you can’t have corner groceries in most suburbs. I live in an old one so we can walk to the pharmacy, grocery, four restaurants, numerous doctors, LabCorp, and such. Likewise, we should be adding real high speed rail as seen in Europe and China to cover our vast distances, so there’s no reason for so many planes… but yes, most Americans will need a personal car for the time being. But I can never believe we are so complacent about building an ever-increasing number of new suburbs with the old car-dependent strategy.

        One last note… spread out suburbs that are “car only” were often created by streetcars and rail. I could be wrong but I think that includes parts of the Detroit area.

        • We lost the streetcars before the suburbs really developed here, which started taking place in the late 1940s and 1950s. It took the personal automobile to kill Detroit as a city; something that GM and the others actively encouraged. So right-of-way for rail is a problem, and cost is very significant. We just don’t have the infrastructure to support it here without repurposing existing roads. Zoning being a municipality-by-municipality thing, at least here in Michigan, it would take a change to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to stop the sprawl. Politically, this will be difficult at best, and a nightmare at worst.

        • (Replying to your last comment, Geoff! )

          I agree on the politics, especially as those advocating for sensible zoning changes for new construction in the UK are being called fascists and communists, with their opponents claiming [sigh] that it will mean people need passports to leave their neighborhoods. I mean, seriously? People are dumb enough to believe that?

    • RE: “Keep in mind automotive engineers are human, like people in the tobacco industry, the firearms industry, the asbestos industry, and so on. It’s hard to see such a major change as being viable especially given how much needs to change. They are also being slammed with Exxon-funded FUD on one side and lyin’ Musk on the other.”

      I have to remind everyone that there is no boogeyman known as Big Oil. The oil companies are merely doing what they’re supposed to be doing for their shareholders: maximizing returns on investment. The owners? Have a look here:

      The owners are pension funds, mutual funds, etc. In short, if you have an IRA or a 401K, you are probably a fractional owner of oil company stock. It’s not like we aren’t all in the position of hoping that these companies do their best to stay profitable; our own retirements depend on it.

      Now we could have a discussion about the hazards, moral and otherwise, about the public ownership of companies via the stock market, but nobody wants to hear about how the thing they’re depending on to pay for their retirement is contingent upon the success of giant corporations. We are all in this together, both for the supposed environmental problems and the financial problems that we share as humankind.

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