Following up on my “Top 10 Best Selling Plug-In Vehicle Brands In 2019” article, this one is for EV purists. If you missed the intro in that one, I recommend reading it. Otherwise, let’s jump into my forecast for the best selling fully electric vehicle brands of 2019.
If you’re comparing the lists, in this case, three brands (BMW, SAIC, and Volkswagen) are replaced by three others, all of Chinese origin.
1. Tesla (450,000–500,000 units) — As I have written before, it is difficult to have a real idea about the number of deliveries the Model 3 will score in 2019. It could be more than 400,000 units, or significantly less than that. It will depend on so many factors (production ramp up, Chinese tariffs, Chinese Gigafactory, Standard Range launch and availability).
No one, except maybe “Doc” Brown, can honestly say they know what the number will be, but I’ll make an educated guess of a little more than 350,000 deliveries. Add to this number some 100,000 Model S & X deliveries, with the slight sales drop of the first quarters of the year being compensated by a strong Q4 2019 … once the production of the revised flagships is in full swing.
2. BAIC (220,000–250,000) — Removing plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), Beijing Auto profits from a 100% fully electric (BEV) lineup to surpass BYD, with a 220,000 delivery target for 2019. Considering BAIC beat the 2018 target (150,000) and still has some 20,000 orders to fulfill, it shouldn’t be too hard for the company to beat the new target.
The question will be the product mix. With the small EC-Series possibly suffering from increased competition (Yuan EV comes to mind), BAIC should bet on the EU-Series sedan and the EX-Series crossover to secure the needed growth to achieve its target.
3. BYD (200,000–230,000) — With over 60,000 customers still waiting for their electric BYD, Build Your Dreams can’t really say it has a demand problem, so if the production/battery constraints allow, BYD should surpass 200,000 deliveries.
The Crossover Yuan EV and e5 sedan are said to be the coming engines of growth, but if the midsize SUV Tang PHEV version have high levels of demand, BYD might be tempted to give priority to the more profitable Tang … hurting supplies for the other models. Anyway, I believe the Yuan EV — which is said to have a battery upgrade coming this year, to almost 60 kWh — will be a big hit, making it not only the best selling BYD, but also possibly the first of the brand to cross the 100,000 annual delivery milestone.
4. Nissan (150,000) —Because the Japanese maker is highly dependent on the Leaf’s performance, it should have a tough first half of the year, with its largest market (Europe) only receiving the 62 kWh version in May and the Tesla Model 3 just arriving. Nissan should heavily discount the Leaf 40 kWh until then, trying not to lose too much ground.
After the arrival of the 62 kWh Leaf in large volumes, in the beginning of the second half of the year, it will be a different ball game. The hatchback could possibly reach some 15,000 sales per month, and with the help of the Chinese operations (Sylphy EV), we should see Nissan recover ground to the frontrunners.
5. Renault (120,000) — Like its Japanese ally, Renault is heavily dependent on a single model, its Zoe hatchback, but there is less drama here. Demand for the current version is still growing, so expect continued growth throughout the first half of the year, with the second half seeing the new Zoe hitting 10,000 units/month.
Add in 15,000 Kangoo EV deliveries and you should see the French automaker hit at least 120,000 deliveries this year. Also of interest, the Kwid EV is said to land this year in China, but it probably won’t have time to deliver large volumes. In 2020, though…
6. Hyundai (100,000) — With over 30,000 reservations on the waiting list, just for the Kona EV, and a smart expansion strategy (delivering the hybrid Ioniq in untapped markets and then, if there is enough local demand, plug-ins), Hyundai (and on a smaller scale Kia too) has significantly more plug-in demand than supply.
So, Hyundai’s #1 concern is getting enough batteries to meet the ever growing demand. Assuming it can get enough batteries, sales numbers should jump significantly this year, allowing the company to achieve a top 10 spot.
7. Chery (95,000) — Other Chinese OEMs coming up in a moment on this list might overcome Chery in 2019, but the company targeted 200,000 plug-in vehicles sales in 2020, so it is serious about EVs. Although, its current sales champion, the eQ city car, could suffer from the competition from younger and more attractive models.
8. JMC (90,000) — Jiangling Motors, Renault’s new Chinese protégé, is a brand known for its small EVs, but for 2019, JMC is venturing into two new segments. On one hand, the new E500 will try to grab a piece of the hot selling compact crossover category.
On the other, the T500 EV will land in a nearly untapped market with huge potential: Ford Ranger–like pickup truck market. With a 58kWh battery, this last model could even be warmly received in a number of overseas markets, as there is nothing like it now or even in the near future — the future Rivian R1T is more of a high-end lifestyle pickup and the future Tesla pickup truck is said to be a Blade Runner full-size pickup, limiting the sales potential outside North America.
9. JAC (85,000) — After a positive 2018, the Jianghuai Automobile Company is looking to expand sales this year by going upmarket, as it is set to launch the iEVS4 compact crossover and the iEV A60 midsize-ish sedan (in reality, the car is as big as a Model S).
But the big sales driver for JAC will be the fruit of the joint venture with Volkswagen, the Sol E20X — that is none other than its iEV7S crossover, but with SEAT-inspired design. The Sol E20X will hit dealerships in the second half of the year. Expect this model to be made in large numbers, as Volkswagen will need every EV it can get its hands on in order to comply with the 2019 quotas.
10. Hawtai (80,000) — The surprise of 2018, having registered over 50,000 units, there’s also news of new models for 2019. With current model specs being regularly updated, expect Hawtai to remain competitive and continue growing, even if it won’t be at the same pace as some of its competitors.
Again, if you want to see a list that includes plug-in hybrids, check out this article.