Indian Electric Battle: Would BYD Be A Safer EV Bet Than Elon Musk's Tesla?

Indian Electric Battle: Would BYD Be A Safer EV Bet Than Elon Musk's Tesla?

While Musk cancelled or 'postponed' his meeting with PM Modi, because of Tesla related of commitments, the company not only reduced the prices of the vehicles in China, but now is reportedly visiting China.

Juviraj AnchilUpdated: Monday, April 29, 2024, 12:49 PM IST
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Representative image | FPJ Library

The electric vehicle battle has scaled new heights over the past few years. And major players have jumped into the 'electric bandwagon'. Some legacy brands like Ford and General Motors have ended burned their hands, forcing them to scale back.

BYD Vs Tesla

But, two names, that are arguably at the centre, withering the storm(s) are China's BYD and Elon Musk's Tesla. And these two are now setting their sights on one of the largest markets in the world, the Indian market.

Tesla made splash with its promise of a manufacturing unit in India. Nevertheless, the recent developments surrounding the company and India have raised concerns. While Musk cancelled or 'postponed' his meeting with PM Modi, because of Tesla related of commitments, the company not only reduced the prices of the vehicles in China, but now is reportedly visiting China. The timing of these developments is conspicuous.

Tesla made splash with its promise of a manufacturing unit in India. Nevertheless, the recent developments surrounding the company and India have raised concerns.

Tesla made splash with its promise of a manufacturing unit in India. Nevertheless, the recent developments surrounding the company and India have raised concerns. |

One question, that is now being raised by some is whether promise of Tesla is worth, or should the bets be placed on China's BYD?

Sure, accusations of impropriety have always been levelled against Chinese corporation by major economies, including US and India. In addition, the Sino-Indian trades have not exactly being going swimmingly well.

Nevertheless, India continues to have strong trading ties with China. In fact, just recently, India's share of industrial imports from China surged by 30 per cent. According to a report, From 2019 to 2024, India's imports from China have increased from USD 70.3 billion in 2018-19 to over USD 101 billion in 2023-24.

The Play of Prices

In addition, 'the price always has to be right', in the Indian context. Being a price sensitive market, what BYD has offered the whole world, and what it could offer to India is something that Tesla would struggle to cope with.

For instance, one of Tesla's top cars, Model Y is priced at around Rs 70 lakh, compare that to BYD's latest 'supercar' Seal, which is priced in the ballpark of Rs 50 lakh, the difference is clear.

Some other factors are also price oriented, but are not directly connected to the end consumer. Until Tesla sets up a manufacturing plant, most cars used would have to be imported, which would only add to the expenses and it in turn makes the process more cumbersome. BYD's manufacturing needless to say, happens in the largest manufacturing unit of the world, China. This gives BYD the advantage over Tesla.

BYD's manufacturing needless to say, happens in the largest manufacturing unit of the world, China. This gives BYD the advantage over Tesla.

BYD's manufacturing needless to say, happens in the largest manufacturing unit of the world, China. This gives BYD the advantage over Tesla. | James Arbuckle

Turbulent Times at Tesla

Although security is a factor, turbulence is another element, that needs to explored. Tesla's top boss, Elon Musk's antiquities have often cost the company in the past, this relays a certain inconsistency onto decision making. The company hit all-time low sales this year, with a drop in its profits. In addition, excessive experimentation and uncertainty over the same, adds to the company's woes.

One example is of the self-driving cars, which is only 'driving' itself into troubled water. Adding to that, the myriad recalls of their existing 'non-experimental' car have only added to the perception problem attached to the company.

Tesla's shares ended the day on Friday, 26 April, at the deficit of 1.11 per cent, with each share costing USD 168.29. 

In this situation, where both origin countries of the company, US and China are dabbling with protectionism, what India, and its consumers choose to do, will decide not only the fortunes of the companies, but also the path that the industry takes.

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