Tesla was the most popular electric vehicle brand in the world during January–September 2017, a new study from JATO Dynamics has found. Notably, though, the most popular model was the BAIC EC (with ~38,000 units moved) — demonstrating the rapid rise of China’s manufacturers when it comes to the electric vehicle sector.
This trend was visible elsewhere as well — with 6 of the top 10 electric vehicle brands operating in key auto markets in 2017 being based out of China, according to JATO Dynamics. (Note: we had an article one week ago titled “6 of 10 Big Electric Car Companies Are in China.”)
The new analysis reveals that during the first 9 months of 2017, electric passenger car and light-commercial vehicle sales were up: 21% in North America (~67,000 units); 24% in Japan and Korea (~19,000 units); 42% in Europe (~100,000 units); and … 126% in China (~227,000 units).
So, in other words, and as much recent work has shown, China is now far and away the top plug-in electric vehicle market in the world — both with regard to sales figures and also growth rates.
In “key markets,” Tesla pulled in the gold prize, with ~57,000 sales (+33%) in the period. BAIC — due in large part to its world-leading EC electric car (~38,000 sales) — was in the silver position in terms of brands (~50,000, +92%). The Nissan LEAF, long the highest selling electric car in the world, saw 36,000 sales (-4%) as consumers awaited the Tesla Model 3, next-gen Nissan LEAF, and other long-range electric cars around the LEAF’s price point.
What’s interesting to consider here is what would happen if China-based manufacturers were to release a compelling, affordable plug-in electric vehicle on the global market. Would it sell well? Would the offering need to be rebranded to avoid anti-Chinese sentiment amongst auto consumers? (It bears remembering that similar sentiment was directed towards Korean and Japanese auto manufacturers not that long ago.) Are a substantial portion of North American consumers just fundamentally opposed to all-electric vehicles? Are sales low because of a lack of SUV and pickup truck options?
If China-based auto manufacturers were to find international growth through the electric vehicle sector, what is clear is that it would come at the expense of legacy auto manufacturers such Volkswagen, GM, PSA Group, Renault, etc. That being the case, shouldn’t North American and European auto firms be rapidly electrifying?