BYD’s Yuan & Tang Shine In February In China — #CleanTechnica Electric Car Sales Report

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Traditionally, February, along with January, are the two slowest months in the Chinese plug-in vehicle market, but with sales growing 58% year over year (YoY) last month, to some 53,000 units, especially in the context of a falling market (the mainstream market was down 17% last month), one can’t really complain about this market, despite the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market share dropping slightly to 4.7% (4.3% in February). However, the 2019 result is already above the 2018 result (4.2%).

With all this continued growth (March could already be a record-breaking month), we could see sales double this year, surpassing the 2 million mark, accounting for some 60% of all global PEV sales in 2019.

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The domestic market is more than enough to absorb current Chinese PEV production. Meanwhile, most foreign automakers have been forced into electrification by the country’s new PEV quotas (10%* in 2019), but results are still symbolic — foreign brands’ total share is still stuck at 6%.

Of this (small) cake, Volkswagen is the current big player, with 3% share of the overall PEV market. It is by far the best selling foreign brand, and the only one able to place a model in the top 20. Volkswagen is followed by Tesla, which has approximately 1% share of the overall PEV market. The rest of the manufacturers share 2% of the Chinese PEV market.

Of course, Tesla is now delivering the Model 3 in large numbers, starting in March, so the German maker should lose the title of best selling foreigner soon. Maybe already in March?

In February, other headlining news was the Geely Emgrand EV joining the BYD Dynamic Duo (Yuan and Tang) on the podium.

Rank Model February 2019 YTD %
1 BYD Yuan EV 4,332 14,425 9%
2 BYD Tang PHEV 3,216 10,124 7%
3 SAIC Baojun E100 1,011 9,323 6%
4 Chery eQ 3,157 6,532 4%
5 Geely Emgrand EV 3,895 6,470 4%
6 BYD e5 2,476 6,444 4%
7 BAIC EU-Series 2,465 6,360 4%
8 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 2,369 5,368 4%
9 JMC E200 2,226 4,989 3%
10 BYD Qin PHEV 1,446 4,469 3%
11 JAC iEV E-Series 1,170 3,915 3%
12 Geely Emgrand GSE EV 1,034 3,842 3%
13 Great Wall Ora R1 EV 1,837 3,486 2%
14 Great Wall Ora iQ5 EV 1,443 3,479 2%
15 BYD Song PHEV 1,383 3,238 2%
16 Changan Eulove EV e) 1,000 3,049 2%
17 Nio ES8 654 2,457 2%
18 VW Passat GTE 1,475 2,348 2%
19 Weltmeister EX5 EV 417 2,289 2%
20 SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV 887 2,205 1%
+ Others 14,912 47,292 31%
= TOTAL 52,805 152,104 100%

Monthly Model Ranking

#1 — BYD Yuan EV: We all knew that BYD’s new baby crossover was destined for success, but the rise and rise of the BYD crossover had to stop sometime … and it did last month, with only 4,332 deliveries in February. The Chinese automaker might be already preparing the model for its next battery upgrade, said to be around 58 kWh. With a waiting list several thousand reservations long, demand is no problem. Sales depend more on BYD’s ability/willingness to make the Yuan EV in large volumes (note that the Tang is more profitable). With unrivaled specs at an attractive price (42 kWh battery, 305 km /190 mi NEDC range, 174 hp motor, $25,000), success is guaranteed, and with the new battery upgrade coming soon, one can only imagine this winning streak continues throughout the year, making it the favorite for the 2019 Best Seller award.

#2 — Geely Emgrand EV: Geely’s bread and butter sedan had some updates a while back, including a new battery (52 kWh) and motor (160 hp), increasing its range to 400 km / 250 mi NEDC (around 280 km / 175 mi real world), and sales have reflected this, with 3,895 units in last month, allowing it to reach the podium for the first time since last August. The best-selling Chinese brand (and Volvo owner) is milking the model’s strong points, like its quality and technology, to compensate for a middle-of-the-road design and price (CNY 218,300 / $31,834), at least until the much more ambitious Geely GE11 (Geely’s Model 3) lands. It seems the Emgrand EV is living its last glory days.

#3 — BYD Tang PHEV: The second-generation Tang continues to be delivered in large numbers, registering 3,216 units last month. Sales should continue strong for BYD’s successful flagship. Although, the upcoming (and much anticipated) Tang BEV could steal sales from it. As for the current Tang PHEV specs, BYD’s midsize SUV saw the battery grow to 24 kWh, leading to an increased 100 km (62 mi) range NEDC (around 70 km / 44 mi real world). In the power department, things have stayed the same, but with 500 hp and 0–100 km/h in less than 5 secs, one can’t really say it was underpowered. You get all that for CNY 279,800 / $40,816.

#4 — Chery eQ: Chery was one of the pioneering EV brands, having won China’s best selling EV title three times in a row (2011, ’12, ’13) with its tiny QQ3 EV. Now, the automaker has regained relevance with the eQ, the spiritual (and material) successor to the QQ3, having scored 3,157 registrations of this model last month. That allowed it to collect another top 5 position, its first since last October. 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).

#5 — BYD e5: BYD’s bread and butter electric sedan, a favorite among taxi drivers, registered 2,476 units in February, and yet, this performance was overshadowed by the team’s stars, Tang and Yuan. This workhorse of the BYD lineup has good specs considering the price (61 kWh battery, 405 km / 253 mi range NEDC, 218 hp, CNY 220,650 / $34,600). With a new (and finally attractive!) design, the nameplate is set to continue its brilliant work as the lesser known team member of the All-Star-rich BYD team.

January + February

Looking at the year-to-date ranking, the big news was the BYD Tang PHEV climbing to 2nd place, creating a 1–2 score for BYD at the top. The Chery eQ and Geely Emgrand EV also had reasons to celebrate, as both saw their standings improve, with the Chery model climbing two spots to #4 while the Geely sedan jumped seven positions to #5.

There are some fresh faces in this 2019 ranking, with Great Wall placing its two Ora EVs in the top 20. The funky R1 EV is now in #13, while the original iQ5 EV is now #14. The VW Passat GTE, a fresh face in China that the German automaker decided to launch just recently (dankeschön, EV quotas!), is now #18, thanks to 1,475 deliveries, a new personal best. This is the only foreign nameplate in the top 20 ranking.

Finally, another startup has made it into the top 20 — WM Motors has its Weltmeister (yes, you read it correctly) EX5 EV compact crossover in #19.

The Nio ES8 had a slow month, with just 654 deliveries, but I guess it is still too early to sound the alarm. Let’s see how the ES8 behaves in March.

Interestingly, only 5 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) feature in the top 20, highlighting the BEV-friendly focus of the market (BEVs represent 75% of the plug-in market). This share is set to continue growing, as BEVs grew 58% last month, against only 18% for PHEVs

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (27%) is a comfortable leader, thanks to the success of the Yuan and Tang. Below it, SAIC (12%, down 2%) remains in the 2nd spot, ahead of Geely (8%, up 1%), while BAIC (5%) continues in the doldrums, allegedly affected by production problems.


Cool New Kids

February is a slow news month, but the two models that have landed are truly important for the market, for different reasons:

Toyota Corolla PHEV — Yay, it’s Corolla! With a plug! Yay! (sarcasm off) While the news that a Corolla PHEV has started to be delivered won’t change the pulse of most people, the fact is that it is an important addition to the market, as the regular hybrid Corolla sells some 4,000 units per month in China. If the PHEV version manages to sell half of that, it will already be significant for the Japanese maker, as it tries to fill the PEV quotas in China. With a 10 kWh battery and 55 km / 34 mi NEDC range, this model is not challenging the BYD Qin PHEV specs, but with this Corolla plug-in, Toyota is trying to ensure that its loyal customer base remains in the brand once it goes into the next stage of electrification (HEV->PHEV->BEV).

Hongqi E-HS3 EV — Hongqi is the original luxury brand from China, known for its President-transporting limos. We could call it the “Chinese Cadillac.” With electrification now being all the rage in China, Hongqi couldn’t be left out of the action, risking losing sales to other brands, so it launched the e-HS3 EV compact crossover, which comes in 2WD or 4WD. The latter has dual motors and over 300 hp in total, allowing it to do 0–100 km/h in 5.9 sec. But if the new electric Hongqi has more than enough power, the same can’t be said about its range, as the expected 320 km (200 mi) NEDC range is nothing extraordinary. For comparison, the much cheaper BYD Yuan EV has almost the same range (305 km). Considering this is a new field for the storied brand, one shouldn’t expect big sales out of the door. If they hit a regular pace of 1,500 units/month in the medium term, I guess Hongqi’s managers will be happy with it.

Notes on PEV quotas:

The quotas are for each brand individually, not for the market itself.

This means that some brands (Tesla, BYD, etc.) don’t even have to think about it, while others (Ford, Toyota, Honda, etc.) have to pull rabbits out of their hats to comply, hence the Ford Fusion/Mondeo Energi introduction in 2019 and badge-buying deals like the ones that Honda, Toyota, and others are making, buying EVs from local brands and placing their respective badges on them, in order to say that they have sold a given number of EVs in China, thus escaping the heavy fines.

Also important, the longer the electric range of a given EV, the more credits a manufacturer earns, up to a credit of 6, which could make a given brand need just 1.7% EVs, if these are all efficient, long-range BEVs.

Also, in the case of faltering brands, they could buy the needed credits from other brands that have excess (BYD, Tesla, Nio). In a case this doesn’t happen, then the Chinese government will envision sanctions on the makers that fail to meet their quota.

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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