20,000 BAIC EC-Series Sold In Another Record China Electric Car Sales Month

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After a record-breaking September (104,900 plug-in electric vehicle sales), one would think that the market would take some time to breathe in October, but that wasn’t the case, with close to 120,000 registrations last month, breaking the previous record by a significant margin (14%). Overall, October 2018 electric vehicle sales were up 85% year over year (YoY).

If we extrapolate this growth rate until the end of the year, we would have December peaking at some 155,000 units and the 2018 sales reaching 1 million units. In one year. And to think that 2017 was the first year that plug-in vehicles reached 1 million sales globally. Woah.

With all this continued growth, the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) share hit another all-time best, ending the month with 5.8%, while the 2018 share rose to 3.6% share, a new record and well above the 2.1% of 2017. With sales expected to continue growing until December, the 2018 PEV share could end north of 4%, and December could reach 7%.

With PEV quotas to be fulfilled next year, foreign brands are starting to put in serious PEV effort in this arena, but their share is still stuck at 6%. Of this small cake, 2 percentage points belong to BMW, the new best-selling foreign brand, 2 percentage points belong to Tesla, and the remaining manufacturers share the final 2%.

In October, the headlining news was the BAIC EC-Series surging to over 20,000 units, beating everyone’s expectations, while stealing the month’s top spot from BYD’s Dynamic Duo (Tang and Yuan).

Here are October’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 — BAIC EC-Series: The little EV is back with a vengeance, with the EC-Series registering a record 20,648 units last month, up 83% YoY. That led to its first best seller trophy since May. Having beaten the previous all-time best (15,719 units, last November) by a sizable margin, BAIC’s EV continues to disrupt the Chinese market, reaching a top 20 position in the mainstream ranking for the first time. The revised design and improved specs (new 30 kWh battery) allowed the EC-Series to remain a popular choice in Chinese megacities. It was also helped by a competitive price ($25,000, before subsidies).

#2 — BYD Tang PHEV: After six months on the market, the second-generation Tang seems to have found its cruise-speed sales rate — around 6,000 units/month — and ended the month with a record 6,037 registrations. Sales should continue strong for BYD’s successful flagship, and new record sales could still be achieved this year, at least until the BEV version of the Tang lands. As for the current Tang PHEV’s specs, BYD’s sports SUV saw the battery grow to 24 kWh, leading to an increased 100 km range (62 mi NEDC), or around 70 km (44 mi) real-world range. In the power department, things stayed the same, with some 500 hp and 0–100 kms/h in less than 5 secs. All for CNY 279,800 / $40,816.

#3 — BYD Yuan EV: We all knew that BYD’s new baby crossover was destined for success, and with a record 5,803 deliveries in October in its fifth month on the market, BYD’s new baby is living up to expectations. Will the Yuan be the fiercest competitor next year to the all-conquering BAIC EC-Series? I guess it will depend more on BYD’s ability/willingness to make them in volume than actual demand, since it is sitting on the vortex of the two fastest selling segments (compact crossovers and EVs). With unrivaled specs (42 kWh battery, 305 km/190 mi NEDC range, 174 hp motor) for the price ($25,000), BYD might have found in this new model its star player, crowning what it is already a strong lineup.

#4 — Hawtai EV160: The automaker’s bread and butter city EV narrowly escaped the subsidies cut early this Summer, by presenting 5 km more range (155 km NEDC) than the subsidy minimum (150 km). That was thanks to a 21 kWh battery, and sales have reflected this improvement. Sales benefitted from the reduced competition, as the little EV hit a record 5,736 units in October. With basic specs (41 hp lawnmower motor) and design, Hawtai is using a bargain-basement price (CNY 102,800 / $14,812) in order to allure carsharing and other fleet-buying companies.

#5 — 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, and the model registered 5,547 units in the last month (a new year best). A vehicle marketed to city dwellers, for $24,000 before incentives, you get a funky city EV with a 22.3 kWh battery providing just enough range (200 km / 125 miles NEDC) to cover the needs of the urban jungle (and subsidy requirements).

YTD Rank Model October 2018
PEV Market Share (YTD)
1 BAIC EC-Series 20,648 68,025 9%
2 BYD Qin PHEV 3,889 38,859 5%
3 JAC iEV S/E 4,790 35,261 5%
4 BYD e5 4,460 32,406 4%
5 BYD Song PHEV 3,160 31,699 4%
6 Chery eQ 5,547 30,650 4%
7 SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV 3,081 29,185 4%
8 Hawtai EV160 5,736 27,068 4%
9 BAIC EX-Series 3,091 24,805 3%
10 Geely Emgrand EV 2,471 24,110 3%
11 BYD Tang PHEV (Gen. I & II) 6,037 23,934 3%
12 JMC E200 4,195 23,532 3%
13 BAIC EU-Series 4,075 21,841 3%
14 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 2,337 21,564 3%
15 BYD Yuan EV 5,803 21,490 3%
16 SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 1,196 21,115 3%
17 SAIC Baojun E100 3,126 16,041 2%
18 Zotye E200 2,050 14,668 2%
19 Zhidou D2 EV 63 13,198 2%
20 Hawtai xEV 2,245 12,641 2%
Others 31,401 218,845 29%
TOTAL 119,401 750,937 100%

2018 Ranking

In a record month, there were plenty of changes, the three most important being the BYD e5 climbing to #4 thanks to a record 4,460 units and the Chery eQ climbing to #6 while the rise and rise of the Hawtai EV160 continues, with the little EV jumping two spots to #8.

Hawtai EVs are a hot item right now, not only did the EV160 hit a record performance (5,736 units) last month, but the #20 xEV compact crossover also scored a record result (2,245 units), confirming the good moment of the brand. Hawtai is becoming a sort of dark horse. While everyone has their eyes focused on BYD, BAIC, SAIC, and Geely, Hawtai does its job off the radar and in October registered 9,000 units, making it the 3rd best selling EV brand. Will we see it go after BYD and BAIC soon?

BYD’s new babies continue on their way to the top 10, with the Tang PHEV jumping 3 spots to #11 while its smaller sibling, the Yuan EV, is now #15. If the first model has its eyes on the #8 or #9 spot, the second is doing its best to reach #10, which would make 5 (yes, 5!) BYDs in the top 10.

Another model shining last month was the BAIC EU-Series, which rose 2 positions to #13.

Outside the top 20, a lot is going on in the large sedan class. The BMW 530e registered 2,164 units, with the German sedan becoming not only the best selling plug-in in its category, but also the best performing foreign model, in the #22 spot.

The Nio ES8 continues with its gradual production ramp up (2,060 registrations in October) and was once again the best selling luxury SUV last month, with the Tesla Model X delivering in the low hundreds. The new startup model still has a shot at removing Tesla from the yearly category leadership position, as it is now fewer than 2,000 units behind the American sports SUV.

Another model on the rise is the GAC Trumpchi GE3. With 1,592 registrations last month, it had its best month in its 17 month career. Is GAC finally stepping up production?

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (20%, up 1%) is a comfortable leader, thanks to the new Tang and Yuan, while runner-up BAIC (15%, up 2%) is finally profiting from the EC-Series sales infusion to recover market share. In third place, the Shanghai-based Roewe (11%) holds the last place on the podium, with a significant advantage over #4 Chery (6% share).

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Cool New Kids

This was a slow month regarding new models, with the only new face being the…

Skywell Chuangyezhe MPV EV — Basically a van with windows from the heavy-duty vehicle specialist Skywell. It is the first passenger EV from the maker. The new model joins a series of other big MPVs/vans that cater shuttle services, but with no great success. Attesting to the niche status of this type of vehicle, if this new model gets to 100 units/month, it will become the category best seller.

Nevertheless, it highlights the depth of EVs in China, as there is seemingly a plug-in available for every vehicle category and niche, no matter how small it is. Besides hatchbacks, sedans, and crossovers of all prices and sizes, there are also electric pick-up trucks (Dongfeng Rich EV), sports cars (BAIC Arcfox 7), several MPVs, station wagons (Roewe Ei5) — you name it.

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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 473 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes