China Electric Vehicle Sales Up To 5.4% Market Share

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After a first quarter with surging sales, April saw the Chinese plug-in electric vehicle market cool down a little, to some 100,000 registrations. That means it was up only 34% year over year (YoY). Nonetheless, because the mainstream market is still in the red, the April plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) share reached an amazing 6.2%, pulling the PEV market share to 5.4% in 2019 so far, well above the 2018 result (4.2%).

At this pace, this market could reach some 7% share by the end of this year, and cross the 10% share milestone in 2020. And that’s when things start to get interesting…

With Chinese brands still tiptoeing into EV exports — with only some token units being sent to Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America — the domestic market is absorbing almost all of current Chinese production. Meanwhile, some foreign OEMs are starting to profit from the introduction of their PEVs into China (models previously sold elsewhere as well as models specifically developed for China). Despite this investment, foreign brands’ total share is still stuck at 8% of the PEV market.

Overall, 3% of PEV shares belong to Volkswagen, 2% to Tesla, and the remaining foreign manufacturers share 3%.

In April, the headline news was the Geely Emgrand EV reaching #2, with a record 5,225 units sold, while the BYD Yuan EV returned to the highest place on the podium, with 6,428 deliveries.

Here are April’s 5 best selling models:

#1 — BYD Yuan EV: The company’s baby crossover continues along the road of success, and with a new 58 kWh version now being delivered, the small crossover continues to be sold at a fast pace, with 6,428 units being delivered in April. With a waiting list thousands of orders long, demand is no problem and sales depend more on BYD’s ability/willingness to make the vehicle in large volumes. (Note that the Tang is more profitable.) With unrivaled specs (58 kWh battery, 410 km/255 mile NEDC range, 163 hp motor) for such a good price ($25,000), this is shaping up to be this year’s strongest candidate for the best seller title.

#2 — Geely Emgrand EV: The bread and butter electric sedan had its best month ever in April, with 5,225 units delivered, a good sign for all the new models coming from the ambitious Geely Group stable — like the recently landed Geometry A sedan. The best-selling Chinese brand (and Volvo’s owner) is milking this model’s strongpoints, like its quality and technology, to compensate for a middle-of-the-road design and price (CNY 218,300 / $31,834)

#3 — BAIC EU-Series: After the record 12,983 units of March, allowing it to be that month’s best seller, BAIC’s electric sedan had an expected drop in deliveries. In total, 4,738 units were delivered last month, which was still enough to beat its BYD e5 nemesis. The revised design and improved specs (215 hp, 416 km/260 miles NEDC, $32,500) allow it to remain a popular choice, so the sedan seems to be Beijing Auto’s main bet for 2019.

#4 — BYD e5: BYD’s utilitarian electric sedan, a favorite among taxi drivers, had 4,602 units registered in April, resulting in another consistent result for the oak tree of the BYD lineup. This is thanks to competitive specs (61 kWh, 405 km/253 mile NEDC range, 218 hp) considering the price (CNY 220,650 / $34,600). With a new, attractive design (finally!), the nameplate is continuing its brilliant work as the piano carrier of an All Stars–rich BYD lineup.

#5 — Chery eQ: One of the pioneering EV brands in China, Chery won China’s Best Selling EV title three times in a row (2011, ’12, ’13) before fading for a while. The automaker has regained relevance with the small eQ EV, having scored 4,129 registrations last month, a new year best for the model that allows it to collect another top 5 position. A vehicle marketed to city dwellers, for $24,000 before incentives, you get a funky city EV, with the 22.3kWh battery providing just enough range (200 km/125 miles NEDC) to cover the needs of the urban jungle (and subsidy requirements).

2019 Ranking

The market is as dynamic as ever, with plenty of changes and record results, the most important position change was the BYD e5 switching places with its Tang PHEV sibling, with the sedan now in the 3rd spot. That also makes it a 100% BEV podium.

Both the #6 Chery eQ and the #7 Roewe Ei5 EV (4,003 deliveries, best result in 10 months) climbed one position in the ranking, due to a slow-selling month for the Baojun E100. The JAC iEV E-Series was up one spot as well, to #10, thanks to a year-best 3,002 deliveries.

But the climber of the month was the VW Passat GTE, which jumped 6 positions, to #11, thanks to a record 3,767 units registered.

The other foreigner in the ranking, the Tesla Model 3, was also up, to #15, and should climb a few positions more in the coming months, maybe up to #12. It seems the race for best selling foreigner nameplate will be interesting to follow…

The Nio ES8 is back in the top 20, in #19, keeping the best-selling full-size nameplate lead. Although, the Chinese SUV could have some competition soon, as the BMW 530Le scored 2,615 deliveries last month. It is already at #23, only 316 units behind the Nio. Interestingly, we have two models coming from Chinese startups in the last places of the ranking, and with XPeng accelerating the output of its G3 EV (2,200 units last month), we could have three Chinese startup models in the ranking soon.

Another entry in the ranking is the Roewe Ei6 PHEV, with the SAIC model returning here at #16 thanks to 2,819 units registered, a new year best.

Rank Model April 2019 2019 PEV %
1 BYD Yuan EV 6,428 30,874 8%
2 BAIC EU-Series 4,738 24,081 7%
3 BYD e5 4,602 19,129 5%
4 BYD Tang PHEV 3,833 18,720 5%
5 Geely Emgrand EV 5,225 15,902 4%
6 Chery eQ 4,129 13,499 4%
7 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 4,003 12,590 3%
8 SAIC Baojun E100 1,488 11,772 3%
9 Great Wall Ora R1 EV 3,505 10,993 3%
10 JAC iEV E-Series 3,002 9,615 3%
11 VW Passat GTE 3,767 8,846 2%
12 JMC E200 510 7,794 2%
13 BYD Qin PHEV 1,164 7,684 2%
14 Great Wall Ora iQ5 EV 1,109 7,617 2%
15 Tesla Model 3 e) 3,000 6,738 2%
16 SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV 2,819 6,409 2%
17 Changan Eado EV 647 6,054 2%
18 Geely Emgrand GSE EV 177 5,537 2%
19 Nio ES8 1,508 5,321 1%
20 Weltmeister EX5 EV 1,377 5,303 1%
+ Others 40,245 133,284 36%
= TOTAL 97,276 367,762 100%

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (23%, down 1%) is leading, thanks to the success of the Yuan and e5. Below it, SAIC (9%, up 1%) is in the 2nd spot in the race, closely followed by BAIC (8%) and Geely (7%, up 1%).

Cool Kids

April had two significant landings, one from BYD (it feels like the company is launching one new model per month), and another from Geely’s new sub-brand (another?!? don’t they have enough?!?), Geometry:

(Geely) Geometry A — The greatly anticipated (over 27,000 orders already) premium midsize sedan has finally landed, and beyond the stylish looks, this new model bears some impressive, almost Tesla Model 3–like, specs: 52 and 62 kWh batteries, 500 km/313 mi NEDC range, and Level 2 driving aids (well, on this last topic Tesla does better, but moving on…). It has a price that undercuts not only the premium competition, but also some of the mainstream best sellers: $32,700. The aerodynamic sedan (0.2375 cd) delivered 1,017 units in its landing month, so it seems Geely means business with this EV, and it could even surpass the Geely Emgrand EV as the group’s best seller.

BYD e1 — The city EV coming from BYD has finally landed, scoring 1,157 deliveries in its debut month, but expect the numbers to grow significantly, to some 4,000–5,000 units/month. Based on the existing BYD F0 ICE model, this EV conversion doesn’t share the impressive specs of its larger brothers, but still, with a 32 kWh battery and over 300 km/188 mi NEDC range, the little EV has more than enough range to leave most of the competition behind it. This is another piece of the BYD puzzle to continue the company’s relentless growth strategy — trying to cover everything electric, from forklifts, to trains, to buses, to cars, to trucks … you name it.

Editor’s note: I personally prefer to see the sales charts with “Others” included, but I got requests to remove them, so the charts above don’t have them included. The ones with “Others” added are here instead:

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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 446 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes