TSLA vs. BYDDY: The Battle for Electric Pickup Truck Supremacy

China, the world's largest and fiercely competitive EV market, saw a 38% surge in sales of "new energy vehicles" last year, totaling 9.49 million units. This accounted for nearly 70% of global EV sales, raising concerns among traditional automakers and Tesla, Inc.'s (TSLA) Elon Musk about China's potential dominance.

Concurrently, BYD Company Limited (BYDDY), a Chinese EV giant, is set to unveil its first electrified pickup truck globally. Though details on powertrain, performance, and pricing remain undisclosed, BYDDY released images featuring an orange and blue camouflaged truck, signaling its entry into the new energy pickup segment.

Competing with TSLA's Cybertruck, Ford Motor Company's (F) Ranger and F-150 Lightning, and Toyota Motor Corporation's (TM) Hilux, the upcoming BYDDY pickup marks a new frontier in the electric pickup market.

That said, TSLA's Cybertruck, launched in November 2023, faces criticism for battery range discrepancies, premature breakdowns, and durability issues like rust and corrosion. Initially promised at $39,900 with a 500-mile range, TSLA's Cybertruck now starts at $60,900, with deliveries pushed to 2025 due to production constraints.

Musk has admitted challenges in production, forecasting a financially challenging first year. Moreover, with the Cybertruck as its latest passenger vehicle since 2020, TSLA's global expansion might stall, leaving markets outside North America waiting for new releases for years to come.

Financial Performance Comparison Between BYDDY and TSLA

In the final quarter of 2023, the Shenzhen-based carmaker saw a surge in net profit, surpassing TSLA to become the top seller of electric vehicles globally. Revenue soared by 49.8% year-over-year to ¥180.04 billion ($24.89 billion), with gross profit reaching ¥38.21 billion ($5.28 billion), a 78% increase year-over-year.

Additionally, BYDDY’s net income attributable to common stockholders reached ¥8.67 billion ($1.20 billion), up from ¥4.13 billion ($571.02 million) in the previous year's quarter. Sales volume spiked by 38%, with over 526,000 EVs sold, nearly 80,000 more than TSLA's sales.

BYDDY, for the second consecutive year, outpaced TSLA, producing 3 million new energy vehicles (NEVs) compared to Tesla's 1.84 million. BYDDY's cars, mostly priced lower than TSLA's, offer hybrid and fully electric options, posing a significant threat to competitors, as acknowledged by Musk.

In the fiscal fourth quarter of 2023, TSLA's total revenue increased 3% year-over-year to $25.17 billion. However, its gross profit declined 23.2% year-over-year to $4.44 billion. Its adjusted EBITDA decreased 26.9% from the year-ago value to $3.95 billion.

Moreover, the company’s non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP EPS attributable to common stockholders reduced 39.5% and 40.3% from the prior year's period to $2.49 billion and $0.71, respectively.

Musk now recognizes BYDDY's potential dominance in the EV market despite initial ridicule, foreseeing a scenario where they could outperform most other car companies globally. He said, "Frankly, if there are not trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world."

The Two Industry Giants’ Business Prospects and Challenges

BYDDY, while absent from the U.S. market, reaches more than 50 countries, concentrating efforts in Asia, South America, Australia, and selected European nations such as Hungary. Plans to unveil new models, including the $233,000 Yangwang U9 electric supercar, complement refreshed models like the e2 and Seagull electric hatchbacks.

Last year's global sales saw notable NEV success across multiple nations. With over 242,000 units exported, BYDDY anticipates China's NEV market surge in 2024, reinforcing its multi-brand strategy and global expansion objectives. Expansion ventures into Europe with a new Hungarian factory and successful deliveries also mark a pivotal moment in Central and Eastern European market development.

In South America, BYDDY aims to revitalize a former Ford manufacturing site in Brazil with a $620 million investment. Three Bahia factories will process locally sourced lithium and iron phosphate for vehicle production, enhancing regional presence. Future endeavors further include a prospective Mexican factory by next year's end.

Additionally, BYD's battery subsidiary, FinDreams, has partnered with Huaihai Holding Group to lead the sodium-ion battery supply for small electric cars. A Jiangsu production base near Xuzhou aims to revolutionize mass-market EV commercialization with cost-effective sodium-ion battery technology.

TSLA's recent quarterly sales shortfall has affected Elon Musk's reputation in China, the world's largest automotive market. Its market share has shrunk significantly due to unprecedented local competition and declining consumer confidence. Despite being known as a disruptor with advanced technology, TSLA struggles with its limited lineup of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV.

In contrast, competitors like BYDDY offer a wider range of vehicles with advanced features. From the affordable Seagull hatchback to the high-performance Yangwang U8 plug-in hybrid SUV, BYDDY presents a compelling array of options.

Globally, TSLA's delivery of 386,810 vehicles in the first quarter falls significantly short of expectations. "It’s been an epic disaster, not just in terms of the delivery number, but the strategy,” Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Dan Ives said. “This is probably one of the most challenging periods for Musk and Tesla in the last four or five years.”

Furthermore, the company’s reliance on BYDDY battery cells puts it at a disadvantage, as BYDDY’s in-house battery and semiconductor manufacturing capabilities give it an edge. BYDDY’s revolutionary Blade Battery, with an impressive 600 km range on a single charge, highlights TSLA’s struggles to remain competitive.

Bottom Line

In 2008, BYDDY introduced its inaugural plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the F3DM, coinciding with Berkshire Hathaway's $230 million investment. Since then, BYDDY has solidified its position as a dominant force in China's EV market, consistently ranking among the top monthly EV sellers in the country.

Having conquered the Chinese market, BYDDY now sets its sights on global expansion, with a presence in at least 58 overseas markets, including Germany, Japan, Australia, and Thailand. Manufacturing facilities in Thailand and Brazil are underway, and commitments are being made to build in Hungary and Indonesia.

BYDDY’s latest ultra-cheap car enhances its competitiveness against TSLA, which still struggles with affordability. Yet, BYDDY’s product portfolio spans all market segments, evidenced by the unveiling of a supercar aimed at the premium end of the EV market spectrum.

Ending 2023 with record-breaking sales, surpassing 3 million annual sales and retaining its global NEV sales champion status for the second consecutive year, BYDDY has solidified its position as China's best-selling car brand and manufacturer.

Analysts project robust growth for BYDDY in the fiscal year 2024, with its revenue and EPS expected to increase by 28.6% and 3.2% year-over-year, respectively, reaching $107.29 billion and $3.00.

In contrast, TSLA's revenue for fiscal year 2024 is forecasted to grow 9.9% year-over-year to $106.30 billion, while its EPS is anticipated to decline by 8.4% to $2.86. Moreover, Tesla missed the consensus revenue and EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters, which is concerning.

Given this scenario, BYDDY could challenge TSLA’s dominance, making it an attractive investment opportunity in the current market landscape.

Will Rivian's Surprise Announcement Paying off for RIVN Stockholders?

Rivian Automotive, Inc. (RIVN), renowned for its off-road-capable truck and SUV models, has recently announced two new midsize EV SUV lines, including one surprise launch. This strategic move aims to broaden market reach and boost sales figures, showcasing the EV startup’s ongoing innovation within the automotive industry.

The introduction of two midsize SUV product lines – the R2 and the R3 – marks a significant expansion of RIVN’s consumer offerings alongside its existing R1T and R1S models. Among these new offerings is the R3 midsize crossover, accompanied by its high-performance variant, the R3X.

Described as a “midsize SUV delivering a blend of performance, capability, and utility in a five-seat package optimized for both adventurous outings and daily use,” the R2 boasts a starting price of $45,000. Consumers can expect the R2 to become available within the first six months of 2026.

Meanwhile, the company has already opened reservations for U.S. customers interested in midsize SUVs, with Rivian’s CEO RJ Scaringe expressing enthusiasm for the response. “In less than 24 hours, we’ve received over 68,000 R2 reservations,” Scaringe noted, emphasizing the strong resonance of the R2, R3, and R3X with the community.

RIVN plans to prioritize the launch and rapid scaling of the R2 before commencing deliveries of the R3 and its performance variant. The phased approach aims to ensure a seamless introduction of each model. Additionally, upon its debut, the R3 will be priced lower than its midsize counterpart, while the R3X promises “even more dynamic abilities both on and off-road” compared to the R3.

Navigating a Challenging Landscape

RIVN is facing a pivotal moment following its recent product launches. The initial response has provided a much-needed boost to the EV manufacturer. Shares of RIVN have gained more than 17% over the past five days. However, it’s highly doubtful if the stock will manage to sustain this momentum as Rivian’s prospects appear uncertain.

Last month, RIVN disclosed disappointing fourth-quarter 2023 results and a bleak 2024 production guidance, alongside announcing a reduction of approximately 10% in its salaried workforce. Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe attributed these actions to the challenging macroeconomic environment, citing historically high-interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty.

RIVN, which employs a total of 16,700 individuals, declined to specify the number of salaried employees affected. The workforce reduction follows two prior instances where the company laid off 6% of its staff as part of its efforts to mitigate losses.

The expansion of electric vehicle sales has also slowed over the past year, with automakers attributing some of this deceleration to high-interest rates. Concurrently, Tesla, Inc.’s (TSLA) aggressive price cuts on its vehicles have exerted pressure on competitors. RIVN reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.52 billion last year, compared to approximately $1.72 billion during the same period in 2022.

Elon Musk, CEO of TSLA, commented last month on RIVN’s product design, acknowledging its merit but emphasizing the challenge of achieving volume production with positive cash flow. Musk suggested that RIVN could face bankruptcy within six quarters without substantial cost reductions and stressed the necessity of “cutting costs massively” for the company's survival.

Operational Realignment

RIVN’s latest announcement regarding the relocation of R2 production from a new Georgia facility to its existing plant in Illinois has stirred skepticism among investors. The decision, while touted as a cost-saving measure, raises concerns about the company's ability to manage its operations effectively.

Given the company’s history of falling short on production targets at its Illinois site, doubts loom over its capability to meet future goals. The move to halt construction in Georgia and redirect production efforts underscores underlying challenges within the company’s operational framework.

Investors, already wary of the company's cash burn rate and unmet expectations, could now face heightened uncertainty regarding its financial health and strategic direction. The abrupt shift in manufacturing plans may exacerbate apprehensions surrounding RIVN’s long-term viability in the competitive automotive market.

Investor Scrutiny

Pomerantz LLP has been investigating RIVN on behalf of its investors, focusing on potential securities fraud or other unlawful practices involving RIVN and certain executives. The probe aims to determine the veracity of allegations surrounding the company’s conduct.

RIVN’s fourth-quarter 2023 financial report highlighted significant disparities from analysts’ projections. The company disclosed its intention to produce 57,000 vehicle units in 2024, a figure notably lower than the anticipated 80,000 units.

These revelations may have far-reaching implications for RIVN and its stakeholders. Shareholders could experience negative impacts on their investments as confidence in the company's financial health and management practices may erode. Moreover, RIVN’s market value may face downward pressure amid concerns about its operational performance and strategic decision-making.

The Road Ahead

RIVN’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 results, unveiled on February 21, showcased a robust revenue expansion of 167.4%. However, the company notably floundered in crucial aspects beyond financial metrics, signaling significant shortcomings despite meeting revenue expectations.

More alarmingly, the EV company’s 2024 production forecast of merely 57,000 vehicles fell below analysts’ predictions, hinting at subdued revenue growth prospects for the year ahead.

Also, it’s imperative to recognize that RIVN is likely to deplete a significant portion of its cash reserves as it scales up production, prepares for the rollout of the R2 vehicle lineup, notably the R2 midsize SUV aimed at the mass market, and absorbs consequent quarterly operational deficits.

Compounding the situation, the launch timeline for the R2 models, including a budget-friendly electric pickup variant, extends beyond the current year, delaying consumer availability until 2026. The protracted timeline, coupled with anticipated ongoing losses, underscores a prolonged path toward revitalizing growth for RIVN.

Furthermore, RIVN may find itself compelled to seek external funding once more before the arrival of the R2 lineup in 2026. The potential necessity underscores the company's ongoing financial challenges and the imperative of securing additional capital to sustain its operations and strategic initiatives.

Bottom Line

RIVN’s strategic expansion with the recent announcement of new product launches could broaden the company’s market reach and boost its sales. However, despite the initial positive reception, the company could continue to face formidable challenges, including mounting losses, production delays, increasing cash burn, and fierce competition.

Therefore, until the EV company demonstrates sustainable profitability and operational stability, it could be wise to steer clear of RIVN.