A record 55,000 new passenger electric cars were registered last month in China, with the market growing 68% compared to the same month last year and pulling the year-to-date (YTD) count to over 282,000 electric cars, up 45% year over year (YoY).
As a consequence of all this, the plug-in vehicle (PEV) market share grew once again, this time to 1.8%, and is now firmly ahead of last year’s record (1.5%). Sales are expected to grow even further by the end of the year, and the Chinese PEV market seems sure to surpass 2% share by year end, maybe even reaching 2.5%.
And this is just the beginning. With the Chinese market setting ambitious goals for the next few years, we are set to see the needle rise significantly year after year. And remember that BYD expects a new car market that is 100% electrified by 2030 (but that includes conventional hybrids).
This is still a highly protected market, where 94% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 4% belong to Tesla, 1% to BMW, and the remaining 1% divided by all other automakers. And, surprisingly, that represents a bit of an opening in the market compared to previous months and years, when foreign brands had even significantly lower share.
In August, small city cars were all the rage, with the EC-Series winning the best-selling award (over 6,700 deliveries — a new record), soundly beating the #2 Zhidou D2 EV. The Kandi K17, meanwhile, joined the top 5 this month.
Here are the top 5 best selling models in August 2017:
#1 — BAIC EC-Series: A consistent seller this year, the BAIC EC-Series, formerly known as EC180, sold 6,726 units in August, a new all-time record for a single model in China. The little city EV’ surge last month owes its success to a trendy design in an affordable package — it’s reminiscent of a crossover, has decent specs (now with 200 km of range), and comes with a competitive price (€19,000). Will it be enough to win the 2017 Best Seller award? If that happens, it would be a first for BAIC and the first time since 2013 that a BYD model didn’t win the trophy.
#2 — Zhidou D2 EV: A bare-basics city vehicle that I commonly say doesn’t inspire anyone, this model continues to be delivered in record quantities (5,018 units in August), probably due to big fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a quadricycle (think: Renault Twizy) in some European countries. It hosts the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 km range, 90 km/h max speed, approximately €16,000.
#3 — BYD Song PHEV: This is BYD’s “Model Y,” a VW Tiguan-sized SUV with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The Song PHEV registered 4,194 units, dropping some 900 units compared to the previous month. Production constraints or is demand fading? I believe the full potential of this version should be around 5,000–6,000 units/month, plus some 3,000–4,000 units from the fully electric version, which should be enough to have the Song reach the tune of 10,000 units/month if you count both versions. (The fully electric version had another 1,200 deliveries last month, in its second full sales month.)
#4 — Geely Emgrand EV: Geely’s electric sedan had a year-best performance in August, with 4,114 registrations. Improved specs (300 km of range) and equipment without hurting the final price too much (€25,000) helped it to pull sales up, but it remains to be seen if Geely will be able to match its personal best, achieved last December (6,023 registrations), this year.
#5 — Kandi K17: This five-door Kandi saw 3,213 deliveries in August, allowing it to squeeze into the top 5. A popular choice among carsharing companies, priced at about €21,000 before incentives, you get a fairly spacious city car (think: Renault Zoe) and the 20kWh battery provided enough range for many people, with the major drawback being the weak engine (48 hp).
|China||August||YTD||YTD Market Share|
|Zhidou D2 EV||5,018||27,507||10%|
|BYD Song PHEV||4,194||16,101||6%|
|Geely Emgrand EV||4,114||13,811||5%|
|SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV||1,201||12,012||4%|
|Changan Benni EV*||2,122||9,831||3%|
|Tesla Model S*||700||5,995||2%|
|Tesla Model X*||1,000||5,664||2%|
|Zotye Cloud EV||114||4,880||2%|
|BYD Qin EV300||256||4,518||2%|
|BYD Qin PHEV||2,178||4,166||1%|
Year-to-Date Ranking — Beijing Auto EC-Series Back at #1
The big news of August was of course the BAIC EC-Series returning to the top spot, but the last place of the podium also changed hands, with the BYD Song PHEV climbing to #3, being at the same time the best-selling SUV and the best-selling PHEV in the ranking.
The Geely Emgrand EV jumped to fifth place, while the Roewe eRX5 PHEV stumbled to #8, scoring its worst result since February (1,201 units). The Roewe eRX5 PHEV was actually outsold by its brand new BEV sibling (1,580 units). A case of internal competition?
Could that be a reference for the Kandi K17 surging to #13? Also notable is that the BYD Qin PHEV returned to the top 20, thanks to 2,178 deliveries, its best result in 11 months, making that 5 BYDs in the top 20, or 25% of the list!
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (20%, down 1%) is stable in its position on the throne, keeping the previous leader BAIC (15%, down 2%) at a safe distance.
In 3rd place, we have Zhidou, with 10% share. SAIC is on its tail (9%), with the Shanghai-based manufacturer aiming to surpass it soon in its bid to become the third of China’s “Big 3 PEV” club.
In this section, we look at some of the cars that landed in the previous month and have potential to reach the top 20:
Changan Eulove EV — A surprisingly strong landing for the small MPV, with 1,095 units, the numbers show the excellent value for money this model offers. In exchange for €20,300, you get a spacious if awkward-looking compact MPV, with a 35 kWh battery and 252 kilometers of range. This is a model to follow closely, and could potentially displace the Benni EV as the best-selling Changan EV.
SAIC Wuling E100 — A lot is expected from this Smart-like model, as SAIC hopes to steal a significant portion of the important city-EV and carsharing markets, distributing it through its popular Wuling brand. At 249 centimeters in length, SAIC managed to make it even smaller than the Smart Fortwo, and with only 39 hp in its engine, it is no pocket rocket, but it can travel up to 155 kilometers on a single charge. With a hip interior, which in some ways looks better than the Smart itself, this is a model that can certainly overshadow the Zhidou D2. Although, SAIC is being cautious in these first stages, delivering only 674 units in its debut month. Target: 5,000 units/month.