So right now, it looks like it's Tesla and the Chinese battle, said Steve Westly, a former Tesla board member and founder of Westly.
In the opinion of one former Tesla board member, the only company in the world that can truly compete with the US electric vehicle giant is BYD.
"For the first time, I think there is a real challenger and that challenger's name is BYD," said Steve Westly, a former Tesla board member and founder of Westly in a CNBC interview that aired today.
" BYD will likely hit one million EV units produced and sold this year. That's something that should keep your eye on," he said, adding, " In contrast, it is good to compare, Ford, probably has 60,000 units and GM struggling to hit 50,000 units. They are barely 4 to 5 percent of Tesla."
So right now, it looks like it's Tesla and the Chinese battle, Westly said.
He believes Volkswagen has a solid third place, but in terms of speed, "it's Tesla and the Chinese."
Tesla beat earnings estimates in the third quarter, but revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations for the first time in a year, the company reported on Wednesday.
Tesla had previously said it expected deliveries to grow more than 50 percent to 1.5 million units this year. But in the first three quarters, Tesla delivered 908,573 vehicles worldwide, including 343,830 units in the third quarter.
This means that Tesla will have to almost double its fourth-quarter deliveries to 600,000 vehicles to reach its previously mentioned goal.
The company's CFO Zach Kirkhor said on the earnings call that annual delivery growth is expected to be less than 50 percent this year.
BYD sold 538,704 new energy vehicles (NEVs) in the third quarter, including 258,610 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 278,554 plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).
So far this year, BYD has sold 1,180,054 NEVs, including 582,129 BEVs and 593,192 PHEVs.
In February, BYD hinted that the company was targeting about 1.5 million NEV sales this year, up 153 percent from the about 600,000 units sold in 2021.