(Yet Another) Record Electric Car Month In China

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The rise and rise of the Chinese plug-in car market seems unstoppable, with another record performance in September. In total, 59,000 new passenger plug-in cars were registered last month in China, growing 80% regarding the same month last year, pulling the year to date (YTD) count to over 338,000 units, up 48% YoY.

As consequence of this, the plug-in car market share is at a record level, with 1.8% share, firmly ahead of last year’s score (1.5%) but not sky high yet in terms of market share. Sales are expected to grow even further by the end of the year, though, and the Chinese plug-in car market is sure to surpass the 2% share by year end.

This is still a highly protected market, where 94% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 6% left for foreign brands, 4% belong to Tesla, 1% to BMW, and the remaining 1% being divided by all other automakers.

In September, small city cars remained popular, with the EC-Series beating the country’s monthly record. It saw over 8,400 deliveries, with a second BYD (Qin PHEV) joining the Song PHEV in this month’s top 5.

Top 5 Best-Selling Electric Models in September

#1 — BAIC EC-Series: A consistent top seller this year, the EC-Series, formerly known as EC180, last month improved its already impressive August result (6,726 units) by registering 8,419 units, a new all-time high for a single model anywhere in the world. The little city EV owes its success to a trendy design (reminiscent of a crossover), improved specs (now 200 kilometers of range), and a competitive price (€19,000). Will it be enough to win the 2017 Best Seller award? Right now it is the most likely winner, which would be a first for BAIC, and with ever growing sales, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first EV to reach 5 digits in one month.

#2 — Zhidou D2 EV: A bare-basics city vehicle that doesn’t inspire anyone, this car continues to be delivered in record quantities (5,084 units in September, a new personal best) — probably due to fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a quadricycle (think: Renault Twizy) in some European countries. It comes with the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 kilometers of range, 90 km/h max. speed — all for some €16,000. The brand has ambitious plans to market it as a carsharing vehicle in Europe, but will local consumers want to drive it?

#3 — BYD Song PHEV: This is BYD’s “Model Y,” a VW Tiguan-sized SUV, here in plug-in hybrid version. Last month, it registered 3,745 units, dropping some 400 units compared to the previous month. Is that from production constraints or is demand already fading? I believe the full potential of this version should be around 5,000 units/month. Adding some 2,000 units from the BEV version, it should be enough to have the Song singing to the tune of 7,000 units/month, both versions counted.

#4 — BYD Qin PHEV: Thanks to a recently increased range (100 km), BYD’s sports sedan (0–100 km/h in 5.9s) recovered its mojo and had 3,554 units registrations in September, the nameplate’s best result in over two years. With a competitive price ($31,000 before incentives) and full access to government incentives, sales are expected to remain high, as long as BYD manages to make enough of them in order to satisfy demand.

#5 — Chery eQ: This little five-door Chery delivered 2,652 units in September, allowing it to reach the top 5. A popular choice among city dwellers, for $24,200 before incentives you get a fairly funky city car, with the 22 kWh battery providing decent range (200 km) and the engine giving just enough power (57 hp) so that it doesn’t feel underpowered.

Year-to-Date Ranking — BYD Qin PHEV Jumps 6 Positions

In a stable market, we have to go all the way down to #14 in order to see a significant change, with the BYD Qin PHEV jumping 6 positions. The other significant news is the Roewe eRX5 BEV joining the top 20, thanks to 1,940 units (a new personal best).

The remaining positions haven’t seem much action, but there were some personal records being broken across the ranking. Besides the aforementioned BAIC EC-Series, Zhidou D2 EV, and Roewe eRX5 BEV performances, another model also broke its personal best: The JAC iEV6S registered 3,021 units, more than it had delivered in the whole year of 2016.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%, down 1%) is comfortable at the throne, keeping the former leader BAIC (15%) at a safe distance. At least for now.

In 3rd place, we have Zhidou, with 10% share, and Roewe on its tail (8%, down 1%). The Shanghai-based manufacturer is trying to reach the podium in a bid to become the third of China’s “Big 3 PEV” club.

China Sept. YTD %
BAIC EC-Series 8,419 37,152 11
Zhidou D2 EV 5,084 32,591 10
BYD Song PHEV 3,745 19,846 6
BYD e5 2,288 18,263 5
Geely Emgrand EV 2,437 16,248 5
JAC iEV6S 3,021 15,724 5
Chery eQ 2,652 14,766 4
SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 1,437 13,449 4
Changan Benni EV* 2,586 11,743 3
BYD Tang 1,077 10,461 3
JMC E100 1,693 10,417 3
Zotye E200 1,167 9,263 3
BAIC EU-Series 234 8,244 2
BYD Qin PHEV 3,554 7,835 2
Tesla Model S* 364 6,159 2
Tesla Model X* 514 5,978 2
JMC E200 540 5,587 2
Zotye Cloud EV 684 5,564 2
SAIC Roewe eRX5 BEV 1,940 4,827 1
BYD Qin EV300 115 4,646 1
Others 15,435 79,247  23
TOTAL 58,986 338,010

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. We have two models this month.

Changan CS15 EV — After recently introducing the Eulove MPV, now it’s time for an SUV, the CS15. With a range of 300 km, thanks to a 42 kWh battery, this Nissan Juke–sized model has its weak point in the engine department, delivering only 75 hp and allowing it a 110 km/h top speed. So, while it won’t go fast, it will at least go for a long time. Having landed with only 30 units, one could be in doubt of a successful career, but considering the current SUV craze in China, I wouldn’t be surprised if it topped out at 1,000 units per month.

Hawtai Lusheng EV — I remember seeing this car at the Shanghai Auto Show and for some reason (the front?) reminding me of a Bentley. Then I looked at the inside of the car and the idea of a Chinese Bentley disappeared, with cheap and dark plastics all around. So, the outside is OK, the inside KO. What about specs? A 39 kWh battery and 230 km range is not bad, but hardly something to make it stand out, just as the engine (109 hp) doesn’t. Further, at $33,000, it is not cheap enough to distance itself from the more popular Geely Emgrand EV. Sales target: 700 to 900 units/month.

Also published on EV Obsession’s Electric Car Sales page.

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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 466 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes