China Electric Car Sales Up 77% In June — #CleanTechnica Report

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SAIC (Roewe) Goes After BAIC & BYD

The Chinese plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market lifted off the accelerator, with some 78,000 units registered in June, up only 77%. This slowdown from the three-digit growth rates of previous months is explained by the fact that, in June, “new energy” subsidies were slashed to vehicles with ranges lower to 150 km. That means most small “city EVs” stopped being sold, draining a significant percentage of sales.

Consequently, the PEV share dropped from a record 5% in May to 3.1% in June, pulling the 2018 share to 3%, well above the 2.1% of 2017. With sales expected to pick up as the year advances, the 2018 PEV share should end north of the 3% or 4% threshold. (5%?) December could potentially reach 7%.

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

With symbolic export numbers, the domestic market is more than enough to absorb the current Chinese production, helped by the fact that it is still a protected market and foreign OEMs have been slow to look seriously at this niche. But with PEV quotas to be fulfilled in the near future, foreign brands are putting in effort and now reaching 7% share — 3% belong to Tesla, 2% to BMW, and the remaining manufacturers sharing the final 2%.

In June, besides the disappearance of most small EVs, several larger models hit record numbers. Additionally, the Roewe brand had a coming of age, hitting for the first time a five-digit performance and even managing to snoop around the leadership race between BAIC and the leader BYD.

Here are June’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 – BAIC EX-Series: BAIC’s compact electric crossover landed two years ago, but somehow, it has been overshadowed by the remaining lineup, a strange event considering that it sits in one of the hottest segments around. Nevertheless, with the EC-Series offline (waiting for the new, longer ranger version), the EX-Series is blossoming, especially thanks to a facelift and revised specs (415 km/260 mi NEDC range). Pricing is competitive ($28,500 before subsidies) as well. Beijing Auto’s “ugly duckling” is finally spreading its wings, having registered a record 5,708 units and becoming June’s best seller, a first for the crossover. With BAIC’s “little genius” (EC-Series) injured, it’s time for other team members to shine, like the EX-Series.

#2 – Roewe Ei5 EV: In only its fourth month on the market, the Roewe compact wagon is already on the podium, thanks to a record 4,661 deliveries. It seems the Shanghai automaker struck gold with this original offering. The wagon body is unusual in China. For the time being at least, it’s a unique design, with no ICE counterpart. In true Roewe fashion, it is one of the most solid designs — inside and out — coming from a Chinese OEM. If only the specs (35 kWh battery, 301 km/188 mi range NEDC, 116 hp motor) were a tad better … especially considering the price ($33,200 before subsidies).

#3 – BYD Qin PHEV: With the second-generation Qin just a couple months from landing, the first generation had another surprisingly good performance in June, with 4,606 registrations (a new record). This is the BYD model’s 10th consecutive 3,000–4,000 unit 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 one arrives. As for the new generation, sales above 5,000/month should be the norm.

#4 – Chery eQ: Chery was one of the Chinese brands to bet early in plug-ins, having won the models title three times in a row (2011, ’12, ’13), with its tiny QQ3 EV, now the automaker is trying to regain relevance with the eQ, the spiritual (and material) successor to the QQ3, having registered 4,434 units in June (year best), allowing it to collect a Top 5 position last month. A vehicle marketed to city dwellers, for USD 24,000 before incentives, you get a funky city EV, with the 22kWh battery providing just enough range (200 kms / 125 miles NEDC), to cover the needs of the urban jungle.

#5 – BYD e5: BYD’s “Plain Jane” sedan is a favorite among taxi-drivers. The no-frills sedan registered 4,047 units in June, up 26% year over year (YoY). This second youth is due to a facelift this year and, most importantly, a larger battery, allowing it to improve specs (61 kWh, 400 km of range NEDC, 218 hp). With a competitive price (CNY 220,650 / $34,600), the model is a bit of an unsung hero in the BYD stable, as the 81,000 units sold so far mean that it is the brand’s third bestselling PEV, behind the Qin and Tang models.

2018 Model Ranking

Roewe i6

There weren’t many changes in the top positions. In fact, we have to go down to #6 to see a position change, with the Roewe i6 PHEV sedan (4,028 units, a new personal record) climbing one position. The JMC E200, meanwhile, one of the few small EVs to escape the subsidies cut, rose to #7, thanks to a record 3,638 registrations.

But the “Climbers of the Month” were:

The BAIC EX-Series, jumping to #10 from #15 thanks to a record 5,708 deliveries, a second consecutive record for the Crossover nameplate.

The Roewe Ei5 EV wagon, up 4 positions to #14 thanks to a record 4,661 units.

Expect both of those models to continue climbing in the next couple of months, with the Beijing crossover possibly reaching #7 and the Shanghai wagon possibly reaching the top 10 soon.

Speaking of records, it is expected that the Tesla Model X reached a new all-time record for an imported vehicle in June, with some 2,350 deliveries. That would keep it in the top 20.  

Finally, the BAIC EU-Series rejoined the top 20, in #16. Thanks to a recent facelift and improved specs, the sedan should climb a few more positions in the coming months.

Model June 2018 PEV Market Share (YTD)
1 BAIC EC-Series 3 39,906 11%
2 BYD Qin PHEV 4,606 22,945 6%
3 BYD Song PHEV 3,012 21,201 6%
4 JAC iEV S/E 1,637 17,547 5%
5 BYD e5 4,047 16,622 4%
6 SAIC Roewe i6 PHEV 4,028 15,190 4%
7 JMC E200 3,638 13,949 4%
8 SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 2,724 13,344 4%
9 Zhidou D2 EV 12,437 3%
10 BAIC EX-Series 5,708 12,157 3%
11 Chery eQ 4,434 11,515 3%
12 Geely Emgrand EV 2,433 11,299 3%
13 SAIC Baojun E100 873 10,525 3%
14 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 4,661 9,768 3%
15 Hawtai EV160 2,965 9,455 3%
16 BAIC EU-Series 3,944 7,522 2%
17 Zotye E200 1,497 7,360 2%
18 Chery eQ 7,081 2%
19 Tesla Model X 2,350 6,217 2%
20 Haima Aishang EV 1 6,019 2%
Others 25,699 100,723 27%
TOTAL 78,260 372,782 100%

BYD Still #1

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%, up 1%) recovered ground, thanks in part to the Yuan BEV landing on the market. Runner-up BAIC (16%, down 1%) lost share due to the EC-Series sales dip, with the EX-Series & EU-Series unable to fully compensate this sales drop.

In 3rd place, Shanghai-based Roewe (12%, up 1%) safely holds the last place of the podium. It has a significant advantage over new #4 Chery (6% share), and, with BAIC now only 4% above it, the SAIC brand is surely going after the silver medal.

Looking at the SAIC Group (Roewe + MG + Maxus + Baojun) as one entity, it already has 16% of the Chinese plug-in market, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see it as the #1 OEM in this market soon.

Cool New Kids

Some interesting additions this month: Chery launched an EV version of its Karry K60 MPV/SUV (imagine an electric Subaru Forester with 2WD and you won’t be far off), Changan launched its Oushang EV, a 7-seater MPV, while the little known Yunque brand has launched its Q1 EV model, which for some reason reminds me of a Pontiac Aztec. … Anyway, those were interesting models, but this month, two other nameplates landed, both with the potential to disrupt their categories, so let’s dive into these potential best sellers:

BYD Yuan EV — After a long time in development (it was presented two years ago), the Yuan EV has finally landed, and it did so with a bang, scoring 2,018 deliveries. That’s the best landing since the BAIC EC-Series arrived, back in 2016. So, will it reach the EC-Series sales levels? Regarding specs, in true BYD fashion, the specs are unrivaled in the compact crossover category: 42kWh battery, 305 km NEDC range, and 174 hp motor, all for some $25,000, which is quite a bargain, isn’t it? So, there will be plenty of demand for BYD’s new baby EV. The question is production capacity. With a new Tang midsize SUV just starting to roll off the lines and a new Qin sports sedan coming soon, will BYD have enough production space to meet the Yuan demand? 4,000 units/month should be possible, but above that, it has more to do with BYD production constraints and/or priorities than demand.

Geely Borui GE PHEV — Chinese full-size plug-in sedans never really caught on, as SAIC can attest with its e950 model, which sees only a few hundred sales a month — behind foreign models like the Tesla Model S or the BMW 530e. But the Geely Borui GE is not just another full-size barge coming from China, because the Geely Group has global ambitions, aiming to be a sort of Chinese Volkswagen Group. It has Volvo as the technological source for all of its brands. The top of the range Borui GE shares its platform with the Volvo S90, while the three-cylinder engine also comes from the Swedish brand and the PHEV setup will be seen across Geely Group, including … Volvo models. You can see the trend here, can’t you? “Swedish Technology, Chinese design and build” — this could be the Borui GE’s motto. Local buyers have caught on to this association, as the 942 registrations in its debut month seem to indicate. This is the best landing for such a Chinese model. Will it beat the foreign heavyweights? Expect the success of this model to be closely followed by Geely head honchos as they prepare to replicate this recipe in lower segments, like with the Lynk & Co brand.

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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 445 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes