BAIC EC180 Shines (China Electric Car Sales Report)

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BAIC EC180 Leads Rise of Microcars

The Chinese market had more than 32,000 new electric cars zooming the streets last month, a 49% increase over the same month last year, with the EV market share up to 1.2%. As the year proceeds and sales expand, expect the market share to rise above last year’s result (1.45%), maybe even reaching north of 2%.

This is a highly protected market, where 93% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 6% belong to Tesla, with the remaining 1% divided by all other automakers.

BAIC once again won the title in the model ranking in April, thanks to its EC180 golden boy. But, this time, the monthly manufacturer title went to BYD, with over 6,000 units registered, which means the last year’s winner is back on its feet and ready to chase Beijing Auto in the race for the best-selling manufacturer of 2017.

Here’s the breakdown for the April top 5 best-selling models:

#1 — BAIC EC180: Winning the best seller title for the third month in a row, this model is making a revolution in the Chinese EV market, as this is probably the first (only?) little city EV that private buyers should be proud to have. It has decent specs (e.g., 20 kWh battery) and a decent interior/equipment. The 4,352 units sold last month were a new record for the tiny EV and confirms it is the strongest candidate for this year’s best seller trophy, which would be a first for BAIC and the first time since 2013 that a BYD model didn’t won the trophy.

#2 – Zhidou D2 EV: If the EC180 can be considered “cute,” the bare-basics city vehicle doesn’t inspire anyone. Nevertheless, this model continues to be sold in large quantities (3,709 units in April), possibly due to a combination of bargain-basement prices and big fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a Quadricycle (think: Renault Twizy class) in some European countries, with the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 kilometers of range, 90 km/h max speed, and all this for some €16,000.

#3 – Kandi K17 EV: A major player a while back, from 2016 Q3 to 2017 Q1, Kandi management took an unexpected step of restricting production of EVs*, so one would think it would see its life as an EV maker terminated. Apparently not, as the 2,586 units delivered in April were its best result in 10 months.

#3 – Geely Emgrand EV: The first true car in the ranking, by delivering 2,586 units in April, this compact sedan (think: Toyota Corolla) is set to become one of the best sellers of the year. Main specs: 253 km range, 95 hp, 250,000 yuan ($36,500).

#5 – BYD e5: The current BYD best seller is the low-key e5 sedan, which saw a record 2,512 deliveries last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the plain-Jane looking e5 actually has a lot going for it. Here are key specs: 305 km range from a 48 kWh battery, and a healthy 218 hp, all for 230,000 yuan ($33,400). A wolf in sheep’s clothing, isn’t it?

Year-to-Date Ranking – Geely & BYD Reach the Podium

Below the top two positions, there was a lot to talk about, with the Geely Emgrand EV and BYD e5 jumping to the podium, followed by the Kandi EV, now in 5th place, confirming the renewed success of tiny EVs here.

Also highlighting the JAC iEV5, it jumped into the top 20 at #13, thanks to a record 1,670 deliveries in April. Was it a one-time thing or will it be something that will go on in the future?

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BAIC (19%, down 4%) is seeing its leadership under threat, now followed by a recovering BYD (16%) and Zhidou in third place (10% share).

Ranking China April YTD
1 BAIC EC180 4,352 11,481
2 Zhidou D2 EV 3,709 9,508
3 BYD e5 2,512 4,489
4 Geely Emgrand EV 2,586 4,489
5 Kandi EV 2,586 4,485
6 BYD Tang 1,534 4,340
7 JMC E100 1,222 4,181
8 BAIC EU260 475 3,996
9 SAIC Roewe eRX5 580 3,797
10 Zotye E200 1,129 3,295
11 Tesla Model X 500 3,264
12 BYD Qin EV300 639 2,685
13 JAC i EV5 1,670 2,677
14 SAIC Roewe e550 111 2,449
15 JMC E200 603 2,297
16 BAIC EX200 580 2,277
17 Tesla Model S 200 2,235
18 Chery eQ 1,049 2,169
19 BYD e6 821 2,080
20 Changan Benni EV 609 2,017
Others 4,884 14,557
TOTAL 32,351 92,768

*According to information from an insider source: “From 2016 Q3 to 2017 Q1 Kandi management restricted production of EVs. This was unrelated to the subsidy investigation and directly related to the delay by the PRC in reimbursing PRC mandated subsidies to all EV manufacturers, that those manufacturers had previously advanced to buyers. The PRC owed subsidies from July 2015 onward. Since Kandi only manufactures EVs all of its revenue has a subsidy component. Kandi was effectively lending the PRC government about $7,000 with every EV it sold. This resulted in a dangerous cash flow situation.”

On the previous mention of “fraud” (now removed), the same source explains: “(In 2016) over 80 companies were implicated as having infringements, and that was about 90% of all NEV manufacturers. This included BYD and all the other major manufacturers including Kandi No serious penalties resulted from these infringements which were largely due to ambiguities in the subsidies law. There was no suggestion of fraud by the PRC government.

“In Kandi’s case the problem was due to its 2013/14 models being designed for quick battery exchange with 2 in the car and 2 in the charging rack. This was a PRC government approved system, that they called Kandi Mode. In 2016 subsidy inspectors determined it was not compatible with current subsidy law that required all batteries to be in the car and battery ID #s to match the records at the date of sale. The problem was fixed to the satisfaction of inspectors in March 2016 but that left Kandi in the list of companies with infringements. Since the fix was achieved in 2016 the PRC determined that the 2013/14 models qualified for subsidies at the 2016 rate.”

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José Pontes

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewed the sales evolution of plug-ins on the EV Sales blog, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is also market analyst on EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

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