China’s EV Sales Grow 118% Year On Year & Fossil Sales Fall 13% — Q1 Charts!

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The China passenger car association’s first quarter figures are in, and electric vehicle sales continue their rapid rise, up 118% year on year, to over 254,000. Meanwhile, fossil vehicle sales have fallen 13% year on year, to 4,823 thousand for the quarter.

Tesla Model 3 in Shanghai/

We know that China is full speed ahead on electric vehicles, and the first quarter 2019 figures don’t disappoint. Year-on-year growth of 118% is pretty impressive, even by Chinese standards. Here are the 2018–2019 Q1 sales of fossils and EVs compared in a chart:

click to zoom

Note that these figures are just for passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, and MPVs). They exclude the electric buses that China is also famous for.

Fossil fuel sales continue to plummet. We saw recently that, in 2018, fossil fuel vehicle sales fell, not only in China, but also in Europe and the US. Current estimates for total global vehicle sales in 2019 are hovering around ~89 million units, down from ~95 million in 2018, according to LMC automotive.

Rapidly growing electric vehicle sales in all regions are of course a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy market, and are great news for reducing rates of pollution and climate emissions.

Let’s see how China’s EVs passenger vehicle sales so far this year compare to the sales figures of recent years:

click to zoom

Local automakers BYD and Geely are having a good year in EV sales, with shares of both companies currently buoyed by recent reports and outlook.

Tesla gained the most Q1 China EV sales of any non-local manufacturer, selling — by some back-of-the-napkin calculations (thanks Jose Pontes of EV Volumes and CleanTechnica) — likely around 10,500 Model 3s in February and March. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory, which will enable local production, is being built out very rapidly, with roofs already going up. Gigafactory 3, as it’s called, is expected reach the end of its major exterior construction phase in May.

Shanghai Gigafactory aerial photo by Wuwa Vision/YouTube

Ratings agency Fitch projects that China’s EV sales will have another good year in 2019 despite potential disruptions from the changes in the subsidy regime. Whilst it’s good that Fitch sees a strong outlook, rather than rely on rating agencies, take a look at our own extensive coverage of trends in the China EV market and make up your own mind. I’m still projecting 2 million EV sales in China in 2019. 😉

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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