China Electric Car Sales Grow 49% — BAIC EC180 Leads Rise of Microcars

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The Chinese market had more than 40,000 new EVs zooming the streets last month, a 49% increase in sales over the same month last year, with the EV market share now at 1.4%, close to last year’s record (1.45%). Expect improvement as the year progresses and sales expand, with the Chinese EV market potentially surpassing 2% market share.

This is a highly protected market, where 94% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 5% belong to Tesla, with the remaining 1% divided by all other automakers.

In May, the Zhidou D2 EV was the best-selling model, but BAIC’s golden boy, the EC180, continues to lead the YTD ranking. That said, BYD, with over 8,000 units registered in May, is stepping up the pace and chasing leader Beijing Auto in the race for the best-selling manufacturer.

Top 5 Electric Models

#1 – Zhidou D2 EV: This bare-basic city vehicle probably doesn’t inspire anyone, but surely continues to be delivered in record quantities (4,471 units in May), probably thanks to 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 km range, 90 km max speed, and all for some €16,000.

#2 — BAIC EC180: After three consecutive “Best Seller” trophies, EC180 sales dropped 10% compared to the previous month, with “only” 3,895 units being delivered. Has the little city EV found its natural sales level around 4,000 units per month? If so, it would be a little disappointing, as this is a car that has decent design, specs (e.g., 20 kWh battery) and price (€19,000), which could make it the strongest candidate for the annual “Best Seller” trophy. And that would be a first for BAIC and the first time since 2013 that a BYD didn’t win the trophy.

#3 — BYD e5: The current BYD best seller is the low-key e5 sedan, which delivered another record performance in May, with 3,131 units sold last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the plain-Jane e5 actually has a lot going for it spec-wise: 305 kilometers of 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?

#4 — Geely Emgrand EV: While Geely is busy buying everything that moves (Proton, Lotus …) and is looking to become a sort of Chinese Volkswagen Group, with multiple brands under the same stable, that hasn’t stopped it from delivering 3,015 units of its EV model in May, a year best. This compact sedan (think Toyota Corolla) could land on the medals podium this year. Main specs: 253 km range, 95 hp, 250,000 Yuan ($36,500).

#5 — JAC iEV6S: Despite being a vehicle at the intersection of the two hottest trends in China — crossovers and EVs — success seemed to escape it due to battery production constraints, but with a record 2,572 deliveries last month, those days seem to be a thing of the past. Expect this Nissan Juke–sized crossover to be a frequent sight here in the coming months. Not only does it have an attractive design, inside and out, but also decent specs: 114 hp and 251 km range coming from a 33 kWh battery provided by Samsung.

Year-to-Date Ranking — BAIC vs BYD

Below the top two positions in the year-to-date ranking were a few changes, with the JAC iEV6S jumping to #7 and the Changan Benni EV also climbing in the ranking, up to #12, thanks to a record delivery of 2,269 units.

Other models also had record performances, like the Chery eQ1, allowing it to join the ranking and close the top 20 list. The Chery eQ1 had a record 1,660 registrations. The Horki 300E sedan also delivered a best ever, 836 units, also enabling it to enter the top 20 (at #18).

A note should also be given to the 2,068 deliveries of the BYD Song PHEV in its first month of full deliveries, a result that bodes well for the upcoming “Dynasty” clan (Song BEV, Yuan PHEV, Yuan BEV), sure to arrive in the next few months.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BAIC (18%, down 1%) is seeing its leadership under threat, now followed by a recovering BYD (17%, up 1%). With fewer than 2,000 units separating both brands, BYD could even surpass Beijing Auto in June.

In 3rd place we have Zhidou, with 10% share, closely followed by SAIC (9%).

China May YTD
BAIC EC180 3,895 15,376
Zhidou D2 EV 4,471 13,979
SAIC Roewe eRX5 1,879 7,664
BYD e5 3,131 7,620
Geely Emgrand EV 3,015 7,504
BYD Tang 1,589 5,929
JAC iEV6S 2,572 5,196
JMC E100 802 4,983
Kandi EV 4 4,489
Zotye E200 1,086 4,381
BAIC EU260 1,010 4,358
Changan Benni EV 2,269 4,286
Tesla Model X 850 4,114
BYD Qin EV300 839 3,524
Chery eQ 970 3,139
BAIC EX200 780 3,057
JMC E200 601 2,898
Horki 300E 836 2,763
BYD e6 652 2,732
Chery eQ1 1,660 2,695
Others 7,807 24,097
TOTAL 40,718 134,784

Also published on our EV sales page, EV Obsession, and the EV Sales blogspot.

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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.

José Pontes has 478 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes