BAIC EC-Series Steps Into Warp Speed
The rise and rise of the Chinese plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market is unstoppable, with yet another record performance in November — 84,000 new passenger PEVs registered last month. That’s almost double last year’s total for November. That 84,000 also put the year to date (YTD) count over 490,000, up 60% year over year (YoY).
As consequence of this accentuated growth, in November, the PEV market share of all new car sales crossed 3% for the first time, while the 2017 PEV market share is above 2%, firmly ahead of last year’s average (1.5%). As sales are expected to grow further in December, the Chinese PEV market might even reach 2.5% market share by year end.
This is a highly protected market, and November highlighted this, with foreign brands losing 1% share and now just having 5% of all PEV sales. Of this small cake, 3% (or 60% of it) belongs to Tesla, with the remaining 2% (40%) divided by all other automakers.
In November, small city cars had the upper hand, as rumors are that this class of EVs won’t have such generous subsidies next year, leading to a sales rush in this category. The BAIC EC-Series is the poster child of them, beating once again the world record for registrations in a single month, with 15,719 units. That’s more deliveries that the Tesla brand had globally in its best sales month (14,598 units, last September). Putting this number into more context, the EC-Series was the first plug-in to reach a top 25 position (#22) in China, while, in the same month, the best-selling PEV in the USA, the Chevrolet Bolt, was only #113.
November’s Top 5 Best Selling Electric Cars in China
#1 — BAIC EC-Series: I would say the 15,719 EC-Series cars registered last month are a historical landmark, but with ever improving performances, it looks like December should be even higher. Will it reach 20,000 units by then? The little city EV is being disruptive in China, owing its success to a trendy design (reminiscent of a crossover), improved specs (now with a range rating of 200 km / 125 miles) and competitive pricing ($22,000), and a booming market segment. With the Chinese and the global editions of the 2017 Best Selling PEV Award already in BAIC’s hands, the EC-Series is now looking to increase the number of units sold in one year — just after having beaten the all-time record, which belonged to the Nissan LEAF since 2014 (61,013 units). As Master Yoda would say: “Judge not by size, the Force is strong with the EC.”
#2 — JAC iEV6S/E: One of the EV pioneers in China, JAC has been selling plug-in vehicles since 2010. It is trying to regain relevance with its iEV6S/E compact crossover, which landed a record 4,965 registrations in November, allowing it to reach the runner-up position last month. A vehicle targeted to hip(ster) urbanites, for a competitive $26,000 before incentives, you get a trendy compact vehicle (Kia Soul sized) and a 33 kWh battery providing decent range (251 km / 157 miles NEDC). That covers the needs of the urban jungle, while the engine has enough power (114 hp) to give it the needed “go” for the customers’ personal Millennium Falcon needs.
#3 — BYD Qin PHEV: Thanks to a recently increased range (100 km / 63 miles), BYD’s sports sedan (0–100 km/h in 5.9 seconds) got its mojo back and, like Luke Skywalker, is once again a major player, benefiting from a record 4,258 registrations in November. 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.
#4 — Zhidou D2 EV: As appealing as Chewbacca on crack, this little two-seater continues to be delivered in large quantities (4,062 units in November), mostly due to fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a quadricycle (like the Renault Twizy, in case you know that vehicle a bit better) in some European countries. It has the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 km of range (75 miles), for some $19,000. The brand has ambitious plans to market it as a carsharing vehicle in Europe, but will local consumers want to drive it?
#5 — JMC E200: A model that would only be considered sexy on Planet Vulcan, it does what is supposed to do, which is urban transportation. Based on a previous version of the Changan Benni EV, the little city car has 150 km / 94 miles of range and a limited 40 hp electric motor. It is, however, great value for money — only for $20,000 before subsidies, you get a four-seater with decent equipment and a smartphone app! I am just imagining Vulcans and Sheldon Cooper going nuts over this … like some of the 3,442 new owners of the model in November possibly did.
|2||Zhidou D2 EV||4,062||41,155||8%|
|3||BYD Song PHEV||3,367||26,277||5%|
|6||Geely Emgrand EV||2,570||20,560||4%|
|8||SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV||1,781||16,823||3%|
|9||BYD Qin PHEV||4,258||16,195||3%|
|13||Changan Benni EV||564||11,720||2%|
|16||Zotye Cloud EV||3,099||8,939||2%|
|17||SAIC Roewe eRX5 BEV||1,169||8,807||2%|
|19||Tesla Model X e)||900||7,970||2%|
|20||Kandi K12 EV||2,194||7,858||2%|
Year-to-Date Ranking – JAC iEV6S/E Climbs to 4th
In a stable market, the big news is the JAC iEV6S climbing to #4, at the expense of the BYD e5. This is the highest standing for a JAC model since 2013.
The BYD Qin PHEV also had some reasons to be happy in November, climbing to #9. And the JMC E200 reached #14, thanks to a record month.
On the rise is also the Zotye Cloud EV, jumping to #16 thanks to a year-best 3,099 deliveries. Other small EVs also surfed the year-end sales rush wave, like the Hawtai EV160 (2,834 units, new record), Zotye E200 (2,651), and Kandi K12 EV (2,194).
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%, down 1%) is watching runner-up BAIC (17%, up 1%) approach steadily, which could lead to a last-minute change in the leadership in December. Is BYD sweating? In 3rd place we still have Zhidou, with 8% share, but Roewe (also 8%) is creeping closer and closer, now less than 3,000 units behind. The Shanghai-based manufacturer will play all its cards in December to reach the podium, in its bid to become #3 of China’s “Big 3 PEV” club.
New additions this past month, we had a 10-year-old rehashed Suzuki Wagon R EV landing (Changhe Wagon EV), a taxi-friendly Dongfeng sedan (Skio E17), and a rather attractive Zotye Z500 EV sedan, but the possible future star to land this month comes from Zhidou.
Zhidou D3 EV — The third model of the brand, following on the late D1 and current D2 best seller, one could say that the D3 has some big shoes to fill. The D2 is the current #2 in the Chinese PEV ranking, with over 40,000 deliveries in 2017 and more than 50,000 since it landed in 2016.
The little two-seater now has a more palatable style compared to its predecessor (think: current Smart Fortwo, but better), has grown slightly in size (just below 3 meters), and has increased range (170 km / 106 miles), thanks to a larger 17.5 kWh battery. Inside, things are updated with more contemporary style and equipment, including a digital instrument panel and two(!) touchscreens. Don’t be fooled by the small number of deliveries (33) in its landing month — this thing is made to be sold by the thousands per month. Will it improve on the current D2 success?
There are pros and cons for this new model. On the one hand, it has much better styling and one won’t feel ashamed to drive one, but on the other hand, if the rumors that city EVs will be less incentivized turn out to be true, that may divert many prospective buyers. I would say a 5,000 units/month production rate will be the minimum to keep Zhidou happy.
Also published on EV Obsession’s Electric Car Sales page.