After a few months threatening to break the all-time record (102,635 units, set last December), the Chinese plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market finally hit a new high, with some 104,900 plug-in vehicles being registered in September, up 66% and in line with previous months’ growth rates.
In a falling mainstream market (−12% YoY), the continued growth of the plug-in market also meant that the PEV share hit a new all-time best, 5.2% market share. The 2018 market share thus rose to 3.3%. The 3.3% market share is well above the 2.1% share of 2017 sales, and PEV sales are expected to continue growing as the year advances. The 2018 PEV share could end north of the 3% to 4% threshold, with December possibly reaching 7%.
The domestic market is more than enough to absorb current Chinese PEV production, helped by the fact that it is still a protected market and foreign automakers took a long time to look seriously at this niche, but with PEV quotas to be fulfilled in the near future, foreign brands are starting to put in real effort. Although, their share is just 6%, due in part to the sharp decrease of Tesla, −84% year over year (YoY). Of this small cake, 2 percentage points still belong to Tesla and 2 percentage points to BMW, with the remaining manufacturers sharing the final 2 percentage points.
In September, the headlining news regarding models was the hot BYD Tang PHEV winning its second consecutive monthly best seller award. Additionally, the BYD Yuan EV climbed to the podium, almost giving the #1 and #2 positions to the carmaker. Maybe in October?
BYD Tang #1 Again In Record Month
Here are September’s top 5 best selling models and their sales figures:
#1 — BYD Tang PHEV: After five months on the market, the second-generation Tang confirmed its hot selling status, winning its second consecutive best seller award. It also set a new personal sales record by earning 6,019 registrations. Sales should continue strong for BYD’s successful flagship, and new record sales could still be achieved this year, at least until the fully electric version of the Tang arrives (by December). As for the current Tang PHEV’s specs, BYD’s Sports SUV saw its battery grow to 24 kWh. That mean an increased 100 km (62 mi) of range on the NEDC rating system (around 70 km or 44 mi in the real world). In the power department, things stayed the same, with the Tang PHEV having some 500 hp and 0–100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. All for CNY 279,800 (~$41,000).
#2 — Chery eQ: Chery was one of the Chinese brands to bet early on plug-ins, having won the model 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 scored 5,310 registrations in September (a new year best). That also allowed it to collect another runner-up position. A vehicle marketed to city dwellers for ~$24,000 before incentives, you get a funky city EV with a 22.3 kWh battery that provides just enough range (200 km or 125 miles NEDC) to cover the needs of the urban jungle (and subsidy requirements).
#3 — BYD Yuan EV: We all knew that BYD’s new baby crossover was destined for success, and with 5,008 deliveries in September in only its fourth month on the market, BYD’s new baby is living up to expectations. 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 (the Tang is more profitable) than it will depend on actual demand. The model sits on the vortex of the two fastest selling segments (compact crossovers and EVs), and with unrivaled specs (42 kWh battery, 305 km or 190 mi NEDC range, 174 hp motor) and price ($25,000), BYD might have found in this new model its star player, crowning what is already a strong lineup.
#4 — Hawtai EV160: The Inner Mongolian automaker’s bread and butter city EV narrowly escaped the subsidy cut early this summer, by presenting 5 kilometers more range (155 km NEDC) than the subsidy minimum (150 km) thanks to a 21 kWh battery. Sales have reflected this. With its numbers benefitting from the reduced competition, the little EV hit a record 4,780 units in September. With basic specs (41 hp
lawnmower motor …) and design, Hawtai is betting on a bargain-basement price (CNY 102,800 / $15,000), in order to allure carsharing and other fleet-buying companies.
#5 — JAC iEV S/E: JAC was one of the EV pioneers in China, selling plug-ins since 2010, and now it’s back at the game, registering 4,621 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, getting 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.
In a record month, there weren’t significant changes, the most important being the Hawtai EV160 jumping 3 spots to #10, confirming a good moment for the Inner Mongolia brand.
The remaining changes benefitted BYD’s new babies, with the new Tang PHEV climbing to #14 while its smaller sibling, the Yuan EV, is now #16. If the first model has its eyes on a top 10 spot, the second can also dream of it, which would make 5(!) BYD’s in the top 10.
Another model shining last month was the #15 BAIC EU-Series, which had its best result in the last 23 months, thanks to 4,138 units.
Outside the top 20, a lot is going on. In the large sedan class, the BMW 530e registered a record 2,216(!) units, with the Chinese market now being the largest market for the luxury sedan, profiting from the tariff war between China and the USA that crippled the former class leader, the Tesla Model S. (“Vielen Dank, Donald!” — said an unnamed BMW manager).
The Nio ES8 continued with a gradual production ramp up (1,766 registrations last month) and was once again the best selling luxury SUV last month. With the Tesla Model X delivering less than 200 units, the new startup model now has a shot at removing Tesla from the yearly category leadership, so it will be interesting to see how this works out.
Another model on the rise is the recently arrived Geely Emgrand GSe EV (1,913 units) compact crossover, which is looking to catch up to the class leaders (BYD Song PHEV and Roewe eRX5) next year.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%) is a comfortable leader, thanks to the new Tang and Yuan, while the runner-up BAIC (13%) is waiting impatiently for the EC-Series to its get production in full swing. In third place, the Shanghai-based Roewe (11%) holds the last place on the podium, with a significant advantage over the #4 Chery (6% share).
|Rank||China||September||2018||PEV Market Share|
|2||BYD Qin PHEV||3,866||34,970||5%|
|3||JAC iEV S/E||4,621||30,471||5%|
|4||BYD Song PHEV||3,014||28,539||4%|
|6||SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV||3,119||26,104||4%|
|9||Geely Emgrand EV||3,193||21,639||3%|
|11||SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV||2,273||19,919||3%|
|13||SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV||2,561||19,227||3%|
|14||BYD Tang PHEV (Gen. I & II)||6,019||17,897||3%|
|16||BYD Yuan EV||5,008||15,687||2%|
|17||Zhidou D2 EV||10||13,135||2%|
|18||SAIC Baojun E100||1,043||12,915||2%|
Cool New Kids on the Block
There were a few interesting new additions, with a common theme going on — (sub)compact crossovers. China saw the arrival of the Lifan Myway EV, Kandi EX3 EV, and the Great Wall Ora iQ EV. But the most important landings of the month were two compact sedans, the …
Nissan Sylphy EV — After a failed attempt to sell the Leaf I in China (the name “Morning Wind” might have had something to do with that), Nissan is at it again. This time, instead of just deploying the new Leaf in China, it created an EV more adapted to local tastes. As such, it took the most popular nameplate it had in China (the Sylphy, the local Sentra), and applied a slightly detuned (and cheaper) version of the Leaf technology (110 hp motor, 38 kWh battery), resulting in a competitive price (166,000 Yuan, or around $25,000) after subsidies. How high can it go? Don’t be fooled by the low landing month numbers (314 units) — this car was made to sell by the thousands. The bare minimum target is to become the best selling foreign nameplate, which means beating the 2,000 units/month of the BMW 530e. But the real ambition is to run with the category’s best sellers (BYD Qin and e5, Roewe Ei6, Geely Emgrand, BAIC EU-Series…), which would mean some 4,000 units/month. Will it get there?
BYD Qin Pro PHEV — Speaking of compact sedan best sellers, the highly anticipated second-generation BYD Qin PHEV, called “Qin Pro” to differentiate it from the original, finally landed in September. It had 1,003 registrations in its opening month. With an attractive design, inside and out, this “Dragon Face” generation now has the looks to back the specs (80 km of electric range NEDC, 0–100 kms in 5.9 secs). With a competitive price (180,000 CNY / $26,200, before subsidies), the Pro is set to continue the successful career of the original, so if BYD production allows, this model should surpass the 5,000 units/month mark, looking to keep its crown of best selling plug-in sedan in China.