Beijing Auto Goes Into Warp Speed (#CleanTechnica Electric Car Sales Report)

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The Chinese PEV market is at full charge, with some 94,000 units registered in May, up 127% YoY and just 8,000 units less than the current record of 102,000 units set last December. If sales continue progressing this fast, expect a new all-time record in June.

Consequently, the PEV share hit a record 5% PEV in May, pulling the 2018 share to 3%, well above the 2.1% of 2017, and with sales expected to pick up significantly as the year advances, the 2018 PEV share should end north of the 3% to 4% threshold (maybe 5%?), with December possibly reaching 7%.

Last month, the Chinese OEMs represented over 50% of all PEVs registered globally, an impressive number that is sure to increase during 2018.

Overseas producers lost 1% market share in May, going down to 6%, with the top 20 in May being 100% local. Of this small cake, 2% belong to Tesla, 2% to BMW, and the remaining manufacturers share the final 2%.

In May, it was a Titanic race between the resurgent BAIC and the leader BYD, with the EC-Series high above the competition.

Here are May’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 — BAIC EC-Series: The little EV is back at five-digit performances, scoring 12,624 registrations in May. That triples sales compared to the same month last year, which may mean that the 2017 Global Best Selling EV is not handing out its crown to the Tesla Model 3 without a fight. In fact, it should be the only model with a real chance to beat Tesla’s new baby in the 2018 race. The little EV continues to disrupt the Chinese market, reaching #37 in the mainstream ranking and winning 8 of the last 9 Monthly Best Seller trophies. A cute design helps the EC-Series to be a popular choice in Chinese megacities. It is also boosted by a competitive price ($24,500 before subsidies).

#2 — BYD Qin PHEV: With the second-generation Qin just a few months from landing, the first generation had another surprisingly good performance in May, with 4,496 registrations (its best this year). This is the popular BYD model’s 9th consecutive 3,000–4,000 units/month result. (Talk about consistency!) Sales are still going strong for BYD’s sports sedan and should continue at the 4,000-something level, at least until the new version arrives. As for the new generation, sales above 5,000/month should become the norm, holding down its spot as the best selling BYD.

#3 — SAIC Baojun E100: Shanghai Auto and General Motors have high hopes for their tiny two-seater, and with the MY2018 version being ramped up, it is starting to make an impact on the Chinese plug-in market, having registered 4,310 units last month, a year best. Will it reach the BAIC EC-Series numbers? I wouldn’t rule out that possibility, and even export prospects since it could be marketed as GM’s Smart-like product outside China. Spec-wise, while power (39 hp) is not amazing, its price (CNY 93,900, or $14,700) is quite amazing, especially considering its modern design and features.

#4 — Zhidou D2 EV: While the EC-Series can be considered “cute,” this bare-basics city vehicle design is as dull as a dishwasher. Nevertheless, the cars continue to be sold in large quantities (4,262 units in May, a year best) due to a combination of bargain-basement prices and big fleet deals, aided by updated specs in 2018. This vehicle is sold as a quadricycle (think Renault Twizy class) in some European countries, with the following specs: 18 kWh battery, 155 km of range, and 100 km/h max speed, all for some $18,650.

#5 — BAIC EX-Series: BAIC’s electric compact crossover landed two years ago, but somehow, it has been overshadowed since by the remaining lineup, a strange event considering that it sits on one of the hottest segments around. Nevertheless, its time has come and thanks to revised specs (48 kWh battery, 318 km /199 mi NEDC range) and pricing ($28,500, before subsidies). In 2018, Beijing Auto’s ugly duckling is finally spreading its wings, having registered a record 4,034 units. Will the automaker find here the lineup’s second-in-command medalist to stand alongside the EC-Series?

PEV Model May 2018 PEV Market Share
1 BAIC EC-Series 12,624 39,903 14%
2 BYD Qin PHEV 4,496 18,339 6%
3 BYD Song PHEV 3,268 18,189 6%
4 JAC iEV S/E 2,517 15,910 5%
5 BYD e5 3,883 12,575 4%
6 Zhidou D2 EV 4,262 12,437 4%
7 SAIC Roewe i6 PHEV 2,962 11,162 4%
8 SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 3,030 10,620 4%
9 JMC E200 3,372 10,311 4%
10 SAIC Baojun E100 4,310 9,652 3%
11 Geely Emgrand EV 3,566 8,866 3%
12 Chery eQ1 3,055 7,238 2%
13 Chery eQ 100 7,176 2%
14 Hawtai EV160 1,999 6,490 2%
15 BAIC EX-Series 4,034 6,449 2%
16 Haima Aishang EV 3,278 6,018 2%
17 Zotye E200 1,703 5,859 2%
18 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 2,996 5,107 2%
19 Hawtai xEV260 1,559 4,412 2%
20 Changan Benni EV 1,103 4,115 1%
Others 26,082 73,254 25%
TOTAL 94,199 294,082 100%

2018 Ranking

There weren’t many changes on the top positions in May. The most important was the BYD Qin PHEV switching places with its Song PHEV stablemate, with the sedan now in 2nd place. Meanwhile, the tiny Zhidou D2 EV also took the time to climb one position, to 6th place.

But significant changes happened in the lower end of the table, with the BAIC EX-Series storming through to #15, thanks to a record 4,034 deliveries, a new record for the crossover nameplate.

Speaking of records, there were plenty in this top 20 list — six in total. Besides the aforementioned BAIC EX-Series, the #8 Roewe eRX5 PHEV also broke its personal best (3,030), just like the #9 JMC E200 (3,372) and the #20 Hawtai xEV260 (1,559).

Finally, the Haima Aishang EV jumped three positions, to #16, thanks to a record 3,278 units, while the second newcomer on the top 20, the #18 Roewe Ei5 EV, registered 2,996 units in only its third month on the market. Has SAIC struck gold with its standalone wagon?

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (18%, down 3%) is losing ground fast, having lost 6% share in the last 2 months to the profit of runner-up BAIC (17%, up 2%). That not only has its EC-Series sales champ in full charge, but it also now has the EX-Series helping decisively.

In 3rd place, the Shanghai-based Roewe (11%, up 1%) holds the last place on the podium, with a significant advantage over #4 JAC (6% share). But if we look at SAIC’s entire corporate result (Roewe+MG+Baojun+Maxus), the share adds up to 15%, confirming it as one of the Big Three Chinese OEMs in the plug-in market.

Cool Kids

Nothing too exciting was introduced this month. GAC launched a BEV version of the Trumpchi GS4 sedan, Great Wall made a Euro-specced (as in, short range…) PHEV version of the WEY P8 SUV, and Hanteng brought in its X7 SUV. Meanwhile, Zotye registered the first units of the…

Zotye T300 EV — Known for some design knockoffs of famous models, like the SR9 (aka Porsche Macan-Clone), Zotye is also one of the EV pioneers in China, having started in 2010 to make a BEV version of its 2008 model (a slightly disguised Daihatsu Terios). It has since then specialized in making small city EVs.

Now, with the BEV version of the T300, the brand is going after one of the hottest segments in the market: Compact Crossovers. This time, it is doing so without other models as a clear source of inspiration. The T300 is a VW Tiguan-sized crossover, going after the current category champs — the BYD Song, Roewe eRX5, and BAIC EX-Series. It compensates for its lower range (250 km NEDC) with a competitive price (CNY180,000/$28,200) and a rather attractive interior.

How high can it go? Considering this is almost uncharted territory for the brand, as city EVs are its specialty, if it reaches numbers close to 1,000 units/month, I believe Zotye would be happy. As the 82 units registered in its first month seem to indicate, this is more a gourmet delicacy to top off Zotye’s real bread and butter (city EVs) than a model intended for big volumes.

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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