New BYD Tang #1 in August in China — China Electric Car Sales Report

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The Chinese plug-in vehicle (PEV) market hit its second best score this year, with some 93,000 units registered in August. However, it was up only 62%. This is a slowdown from the three-digit growth rates of previous months, and is explained by the fact that “new energy vehicle” subsidies were slashed for vehicles with range lower than 150 km. That happened in June, resulting in many small city EVs losing a large number of sales.

In a falling mainstream market (-5% year over year, or YoY), the continued growth of the plug-in market means that the PEV share hit a new all-time best, ending the month with 5.2% market share. The 2018 share rose slightly, to 3.1% share, a new record and well above the 2.1% of 2017. With sales expected to continue growing as the year advances, the 2018 PEV share should end north of the 3–4% threshold (5%?), with December possibly reaching 7%.

Last month, Chinese OEMs represented almost 50% of all PEVs registered globally, an impressive number that should increase during 2018.

The domestic market is more than enough to absorb current Chinese PEV production, so the OEMs have seen only symbolic export numbers. Additionally, China is still a protected market and foreign OEMs took a long time to look seriously at the PEV niche. However, with PEV quotas to be fulfilled in the near future, foreign brands are putting in effort. That said, this month, their share was down 1%, to 6% share, due to a sharp deliveries drop from Tesla (-70% YoY). Of this small cake, 2 percentage points belonged to Tesla (down 1 point), and 2 percentage points belonged to BMW, with the remaining manufacturers sharing the final 2%.

In August, the headlining news was the new BYD Tang PHEV winning its first monthly Best Seller award, while the Geely Emgrand EV jumped to the silver medal position.

Here’s more on August’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 – BYD Tang PHEV: After only four months on the market, the second-generation Tang won its first Best Seller award, thanks to 5,043 registrations, the nameplate’s second best performance ever (its personal record of 5,503 was set in December 2015). Sales should continue strong for the successful sports SUV, and a new personal best could be achieved this year. As for the new generation, the BYD’s Cayenne saw the battery grow to 24 kWh, leading to an increased range of 100 km or 62 mi NEDC (around 70 kms / 44 mi real-world range). In the power department, things stayed the same, with some 500 hp and 0–100 km/h in less than 5 secs. All for CNY 279,800 / $40,816.

#2 – Geely Emgrand EV: The automaker’s bread and butter sedan got some updates recently as well — most importantly, a new battery (52 kWh) and motor (160 hp), increasing its range to 400 km / 250 mi NEDC (around 280 km / 175 mi in the real world). Sales have reflected these updates, with 4,647 units registered in August, its best month since 2016. The best selling Chinese brand (and Volvo owner) is betting on the model’s strong points, like its quality and technology, that compensate for a middle-of-the-road design and price (CNY 218,300 / $31,834).

#3 – Chery eQ: Chery was one of the Chinese brands to bet early on plug-ins, having won the PEV model title three times in a row (2011, ’12, and ’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. The company’s leading electric car scored 4,613 registrations in August (its best this year), allowing it to collect another top 5 position. A vehicle marketed to city dwellers, you get a funky city EV for $24,000 before incentives. The 22kWh battery provides just enough range (200 km / 125 miles NEDC) to cover the needs of the urban jungle.

#4 – BYD Yuan EV: We all knew that BYD’s new baby crossover was destined for success, and with 4,487 deliveries in August — only its third month on the market — the BAIC EC-Series should have a fearsome competitor here. Are we witnessing the rise of the 2019 best selling model? I guess it will depend more on BYD’s ability/willingness to make them in volume than actual demand, since the car is sitting on the vortex of the two fastest selling segments (compact crossovers and EVs) and has unrivaled specs (42 kWh battery, 305 km or 190 mi NEDC range, 174 hp motor) and a competitive price ($25,000). BYD might have found in this new model its star player, crowning what is already a strong lineup.

#5 – JAC iEV S/E: JAC was another EV pioneer in China, selling plug-ins since 2010, and it’s back in the game, registering 4,450 units last month. With a competitive price of $26,000 before incentives, this is a vehicle targeted at trendy urbanites that for some reason can’t reach a BYD Song or Roewe’s eRX5. They get in return a good-looking compact vehicle (Kia Soul sized), with just enough power and range (114 hp & 251 km / 156 mi) to not to make it look bad. Interestingly, the word on the street is that JAC has export ambitions.

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2018 Ranking

There were several changes this month in the 2018 ranking, the most important being the JAC iEV S/E climbing one position to 3rd place while both the Chery eQ and Geely Emgrand EV jumped three positions, to #7 and #8, respectively.

But the Climber of the Month was the BYD Tang, surging to #16, up 4 positions. The sports SUV is clearly aimed at a top 10 finish in 2018.

Other models on the rise were the Roewe Ei5, going up one position (#12), and the Hawtai EV160, slowly but steadily climbing the ranking ladder and now up to #13.

Two new models joined the top 20. The BYD Yuan EV jumped to #19 (will it reach the top 10 this year?). That made it the 5th BYD on the top 20 list. The Hawtai xEV is now #20, confirming Hawtai as the current market Dark Horse — no one mentions the company, but it is making its way.

Outside the top 20, a lot is going on in the large sedan class. The Tesla Model S used to rule with no real competition, but now the Geely Borui GE PHEV (2,455 units last month) and BMW 530e (1,676) are leaving the Californian in the dust (288 deliveries for the Model S in August). With the tariff war between the US and China raging on, do not expect any recovery soon, leaving BMW and Geely alone in the race of the category’s best seller.

The Nio ES8 was the best selling luxury SUV last month (1,296 registrations), with the Tesla Model X delivering fewer than 200 units, so the new startup model has a shot at removing Tesla from the yearly category leadership. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (20%, up 1%) is a comfortable leader, thanks to the new Tang and Yuan, while runner-up BAIC (13%, down 1%) is still losing share as the EC-Series struggles to get production in full swing and the EX & EU-Series are unable to fully compensate the EC drop.

In 3rd place, Shanghai-based Roewe (11%) holds the last place of the podium, with a significant advantage over #4 Chery (6% share). With BAIC now only 3% above the SAIC brand, it is now going after the silver medal.

PEV Model August 2018 PEV Market Share 2018
1 BAIC EC-Series 3,028 43,434 8%
2 BYD Qin PHEV 4,091 31,104 6%
3 JAC iEV S/E 4,450 25,850 5%
4 BYD Song PHEV 1,916 25,525 5%
5 BYD e5 4,003 23,681 4%
6 SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV 3,758 22,530 4%
7 Chery eQ 4,613 19,793 4%
8 Geely Emgrand EV 4,647 18,446 3%
9 BAIC EX-Series 3,162 18,364 3%
10 SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 2,060 17,646 3%
11 JMC E200 1,128 17,198 3%
12 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 3,959 16,666 3%
13 Hawtai EV160 3,984 16,552 3%
14 BAIC EU-Series 2,988 13,628 2%
15 Zhidou D2 EV 345 13,125 2%
16 BYD Tang PHEV (Gen. I & II) 5,043 11,878 2%
17 SAIC Baojun E100 745 11,872 2%
18 Zotye E200 2,005 11,284 2%
19 BYD Yuan EV 4,487 10,679 2%
20 Hawtai xEV 1,590 8,409 2%
Others 30,810 167,758 31%
TOTAL 92,812 545,422 100%

Cool New Kids

There were a few interesting new additions, like the arrival of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV (449 units) and Volvo S90 PHEV, the landing of the top-of-range Roewe Marvel X EV, and the new Kandi K27 and K28 models, but they were all outshined by a new model from the Geely Group…

Lynk & Co

Lynk & Co 01 PHEV – This is one of the most important plug-in releases of the year, not only in China, but also worldwide, as the young and unconventional affordable luxury brand from Geely has big international ambitions. Stores are set to open in 2019 across Europe, and deliveries are planned for the following year, with plug-ins being part of the mix from the start.

Based on Volvo technology and platforms, the European units will be built in Belgium alongside their Volvo platform mates. So the career of the model in China could be an indication of success elsewhere. They started with 399 units last month, no doubt demonstration units. Customers will now be able to drive the vehicle and try the (small) electric range of the model, which comes from a small 9 kWh battery.

The vehicle is powered by a (puny) 81 hp electric motor. While the car itself is appealing, the specs and price (CNY 240,000 / $35,000) could be better, so it will be a matter of heart over head.

Some 1,000 units/month is the minimum threshold for success. Let’s see how much more the 01 PHEV will be able to rise.

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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