Elon Musk acknowledged the remarkable success of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers on Tesla’s earnings call, emphasizing their competitiveness globally. Musk expressed belief in their potential dominance, noting that without trade barriers, Chinese automakers could outperform most global counterparts. The European Commission is currently investigating subsidies provided to Chinese EV makers, raising the possibility of higher tariffs, especially as these companies aggressively expand into Europe.
Chinese EV makers like BYD, surpassing Tesla in Q4 sales, and startups Nio and Xpeng, have extended their presence to markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Analysts have highlighted the potential challenges these companies pose to traditional auto manufacturers. Musk, previously lauding Chinese EV firms, emphasized their competitiveness, indicating that some Chinese company could be second only to Tesla.
Musk stated, “The Chinese car companies are the most competitive car companies in the world. So, I think they will have significant success outside of China depending on what kind of tariffs or trade barriers are established.”
Tesla Faces Global Competition
While Musk acknowledged the potential global success of Chinese EV makers, Tesla’s own shares faced challenges following disappointing earnings and a projected slowdown in 2024. With BYD becoming the top-selling EV company last quarter, Musk warned that Chinese automakers, known for their competitiveness, could surpass others globally. He indicated that trade barriers might be necessary to prevent the potential dominance of Chinese EV manufacturers.
Chinese EV makers, particularly BYD, have set their sights on global markets, with plans for new factories and ambitious sales targets in Europe. The U.S., however, presents challenges due to existing trade restrictions. As the global EV market evolves, questions arise about potential trade barriers and tariffs. Elon Musk mentioned the lack of obvious partnership opportunities with Chinese competitors but expressed openness to collaboration in certain aspects, such as sharing Tesla’s charging network and licensing technologies.