BYD Turns On Warp Speed (China Electric Car Sales Report)

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The Chinese market had more than 43,000 new EVs zooming the streets last month. With the market growing below expectations, at 16% YoY, this performance from China feels like when LeBron James scores 28 points in an NBA Finals game — it would be a great score for anyone else, but people expect more from the star of the team.

Anyway, the EV market share grew to 1.5% in China, already beating last year’s record (1.45%). Expect that as the year progresses and sales expand, the Chinese PEV market will surpass the 2% share by year end.

This is still 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.

In June, the Zhidou D2 EV was once again the best-selling model, surpassing BAIC’s golden boy EC180 for the lead in the YTD ranking, while BYD has beaten the all-time manufacturer sales record by registering 11,198 units last month, stepping up the pace and surpassing previous leader Beijing Auto in the best-selling manufacturer race.

Top 5 Best-Selling Electric Models in June

#1 – Zhidou D2 EV: This bare-basics city vehicle probably doesn’t inspire anyone, but it surely continues to be delivered in record quantities (4,714 units in June), 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/hr max speed, and all for some €16,000.

#2 – BYD Song PHEV: This is BYD’s “Model Y,” a VW Tiguan-sized SUV, in this case in a plug-in hybrid version (the fully electric version has had its first units registered just this month). In only its second full sales month, 4,552 of these BYD Song PHEVs were registered, the second best score ever for a BYD model — the Tang set the record at 5,503 registrations back in December 2015, but that’ll probably be beaten this summer. Why is this model so disruptive?

A) It’s an SUV, and we know how they are sucking up sales everywhere. (For some reason, its sedan counterpart, the Qin, disappeared from the spotlight. Expect something similar to happen sometime in 2020 to the Tesla Model 3.)

B) It has the same impressive specs that its larger brother Tang has (18.4 kWh battery, 70 km range, 0–100 km/h in 4.9 secs), but with a more affordable price ($41,300 USD), which will make it the strongest candidate for the monthly best seller trophies in the coming months.

#3 – Chery eQ EV: A consistent high seller in China, the funky Chery eQ sold a record 3,466 units in June. This is one of my favorite Chinese urban EVs — for €22,000 before incentives, you get a decently equipped city car with a 22 kWh battery and 200 kilometers of range. The only major drawback is the weak engine (56 hp, 100 km/h top speed). Add a bit more power to the engine and you could have a valuable competitor to the current crop of worldwide city EVs, since the Mitsubishi triplets are showing their age, the VW e-Up! is pricey, and the Smart Forfour ED … well, it looks too goofy for my taste. (What were Smart designers smoking when they created this recent generation?!?).

#4 – BYD e5: The Plain Jane BYD e5 sedan continues to impress, delivering another record performance (the third in a row), with 3,206 units moved last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the low-key e5 actually has a lot going for it: 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?

#5 – JAC iEV6S: Despite being a vehicle in the intersection of the two hottest trends in China — crossovers and EVs — success surprisingly escaped the iEV6S due to battery production constraints. But those days are now a thing of the past, having scored a record 3,001 deliveries last month. 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 kilometers of range coming from a 33 kWh battery provided by Samsung.

Year-to-Date Ranking – Zhidou D2 & BYD New Kings

The big news when it comes to changes in the year-to-date ranking was of course the rise to #1 of the Tin Lizzie Zhidou D2 EV. The BYD e5 finally reaching the podium was notable as well, and the JAC iEV6S continues to climb the ladder, now jumping to #5.

But the sensation of the month was the BYD Song PHEV, shooting to #8 in only its second full month on the market. Expect it in July to reach the top 5 and maybe even the podium by the end of Summer.

Tesla may not be thrilled with its rankings, but the Tesla Model S and Model X being present on the top 20 ranking make them by far the most successful foreign models. The third-best-selling overseas model was the BMW X1 PHEV, with an estimated 600 units delivered.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%, up 2%) is back at the Iron Throne, replacing the previous leader BAIC (17%, down 1%). With warp speed now turned on, expect BYD to distance itself from the competition at lightning speed.

In 3rd place and without immediate pretensions to be the King of the Realm, we have Zhidou, with 10% share, followed by SAIC (7%).



China June YTD Market Share
Zhidou D2 EV 4,714 18,693 10%
BAIC EC180 2,563 17,939 10%
BYD e5 3,206 10,826 6%
SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 1,541 9,205 5%
JAC iEV6S 3,001 8,197 5%
Geely Emgrand EV 478 7,982 4%
BYD Tang 1,573 7,502 4%
BYD Song PHEV 4,552 6,838 4%
Chery eQ 3,466 6,605 4%
JMC E100 1,153 6,136 3%
Changan Benni EV 1,778 6,064 3%
Zotye E200 1,568 5,949 3%
BAIC EU260 1,333 5,691 3%
Kandi EV 315 4,804 3%
Tesla Model S 1,600 4,785 3%
Tesla Model X 500 4,514 3%
BYD Qin EV300 593 4,117 2%
Zotye Cloud EV 1,568 3,687 2%
JMC E200 759 3,657 2%
BAIC EX200 520 3,577 2%
Others 7,110 32,380
TOTAL 43,891 179,148

Cool Kids

In this section, we look at some of the cars landing in the previous month that have potential to reach the top 20. Although, in this first edition, we’re broadening the timeframe to the last two months:

BYD Song EV300: The fully electric twin brother of the Song PHEV, this is a model destined for success, starting with some BYD DNA strong points: long range (a 48 kWh battery allows it to reach 300 kilometers of rated range) and quick acceleration (0–100 km/h in 8.9 secs). Although not as fast as the PHEV version, it has the right technology to succeed in this BEV-friendly market. How successful will it be? I would put 2,000 units/month as minimum bar. For now, there were 189 units registered in its landing month.

SAIC Roewe eRX5 BEV and i6 PHEV: Following on the success of the eRX5 PHEV version, the Tiguan-like-but-better-looking RX5 SUV now has a BEV version (with a 48 kWh battery, watch out, BYD!). Meanwhile, the i6, one of the most appealing Chinese sedans on the road, grew a plug and now has a PHEV version, using the same drivetrain as the eRX5.

The all-electric SUV landed in June, with 43 units, but in a few months, once the production kinks are sorted, sales should easily reach into four digits per month. As for the Audi A4–sized i6 PHEV sedan, it scored 359 units in its first full sales month. Given the recent sales bleeding that sedans are suffering, it will be hard for it to replicate the success of its e550 predecessor, so reaching four-digit sales will be considered a success.

Also published on our EV Sales page 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 477 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes