While the overall Chinese auto market kept positive numbers last month, +9% year over year (YoY), plugins vehicle sales were firmly in the fast lane, growing by 120% YoY in October to 147,000 units, a new year best. With full electrics (BEVs) growing faster (+128%) than plugin hybrids (+93%), that has led to pure electrics having 82% of all plugin vehicle sales last month, slightly above this year’s average of 79%.
Last month, plugin vehicle share reached 7% (5.4% BEV), pulling the 2020 share to 5.4% (4.3% BEV). Although that is still slightly below the 5.5% score of 2019, it is a step in the right direction and plugin vehicle market share should surpass last year’s result in November.
Looking at October’s best sellers, we have 3 city EVs in the top 20, confirming the return of small EVs to the spotlight. Furthermore, the Wuling Mini EV kept its best seller status.
Here’s a bit more about October’s top 5 best selling models:
#1 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV
A big name for a small car, the Wuling EV scored a record 20,631 sales last month, a new all-time record for a single model in China, meaning that the production ramp up continues. Expect the tiny four-seater to continue growing until the end of the year. The reason for the overnight success? It is one of the cheapest EVs on the market ($4,200!!!), and yet, it’s not all that bad. The SAIC–GM–Wuling joint-venture model can seat 4 people in a car that is a tad larger (2,917 mm / 114.8 in) than a Smart Fortwo EV. Range is not brilliant (the smaller battery version has a 9.2 kWh battery, and the top-spec version has a 13.8 kWh battery), and neither is the motor (a measly 27 hp), but it has only 665 kg curb weight to carry around and is highway capable. Of course, in order to get the $4,200 price, without subsidies, one can’t expect miracles. … At this price level, the Wuling EV is in position to be a disruptive force in urban mobility, not only against 4-wheeled private transportation, but also against 2 and 3-wheelers. This EV could be a game changer, and not only in China.
#2 — Tesla Model 3
The Californian star hit 12,143 sales last month. The Tesla midsized sedan appears to be holding steady at a 10,000+ sales/month cruising speed. The car just got its first major refresh as well as a new LFP-battery SR+ version, both of which may add to a year-end sales bump that is expected to show up (like clockwork) right around the corner. Will we see the Model 3 reach some 15,000 sales in December?
#3 – Great Wall ORA Black Cat (R1)
Probably inspired by Deng Xiaoping’s famous quote: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice,” Great Wall decided to create a Cat Pack, transforming its tiny R1 Smart-lookalike into the Black Cat, launching the R2 model (think Scion XB/Toyota Urban Cruiser kind of vehicle) as the White Cat, and to lead the pack, Great Wall is now preparing the launch of the Good Cat, a chunky (and funky) compact hatchback (Volkswagen Golf sized) that kinda looks like a Porsche 356 in the front, a Toyota from the side, and the back … well, it’s its own thing. But enough about the Good Cat, we are here to talk about the Black Cat, which had 6,269 sales in October, the city EV’s highest score ever. It looks the new name is giving the Ora Black Cat a second youth.
#4 — SAIC Baojun E-Series
Compared with the bare basics Wuling EV, the Baojun E-Series (E100/200/300) includes the SGMW’s more hip and upmarket city models. In fact, consumer demand for these models has even stayed high during the lowly covid & covid-aftermath months, even scoring a year-best result in October — 5,949 sales. The access to the current subsidy, added to competitive pricing before subsidies (CNY 93,900/$14,700), makes the E-Series appealing for young urban drivers, as well as carsharing companies and other fleets.
#5 — BYD Han EV
BYD’s flagship model was 5th in October, having scored 5,055 sales, a new record for the sleek sedan. So, it looks the production ramp up is going smoothly and demand is allowing consecutive record performances. One of the most competitive domestic EVs on the market, the Han EV will probably become a regular in this top 5, thanks to competitive pricing, it’s the size of a Model S, and yet it costs only $32,800, less than the cheaper Model 3. But price doesn’t tell the whole story — with a cutting edge 77 kWh LFP battery allowing it to reach 605 km (376 miles) of NEDC range (think 400 km/250 miles in the real world), the Han EV is a whole package, with good looks, competitive specs and features, and killer prices being just the icing on the cake.
Looking at the remaining best sellers table in October, a mention is due to a few record performances, especially SAIC’s Roewe Clever EV. The Shanghai-based automaker, banking on the synergies of the SGMW joint-venture in small EVs, has created its own vision of the tiny two-seater theme — the Clever EV. The Clever EV clocked 3,054 sales last month.
The Welmeister EX5’s record month (3,003 sales) added to Leapmotor’s surprising score of 1,681 sales coming from its small T03 EV, confirming the good moment of local EV startups (and the variety — Leapmotor even has a small coupe, the S01). Meanwhile, BYD had 3 models get record performances. Besides the aforementioned Han EV (5,055 sales), the Han PHEV evil twin also hit a record score (2,490 sales). Together, the two models clocked 7,545 sales, while the compact BYD e2 also reached a record 2,598 sales, and even the Tang PHEV had its best score of the last 18 months, with 3,721 sales. These performances confirm the return to form from the Shenzhen automaker.
Below the top 20, there was also the notable success of Geely’s Geometry C, with 1,189 sales. It’s interesting that Geely succeeded with this hatchback while its sedan (Geometry A) failed. A mention also goes out to the ramp up of the Great Wall Ora R2/White Cat, which had 1,651 sales, and the fresh SAIC Roewe ER6 EV sedan is also ramping up fast, having reached 1,124 sales last month.
Looking at the 2020 ranking, while the Model 3 is the undisputed leader, below it, the Wuling Mini EV is running away from the rest of the pack and has already consolidated its runner-up position, a nice start for next year’s best selling EV in China.
This highlights the latest trend in China — city EVs are returning to the spotlight, not only with the Wuling EV, but also the #5 Baojun E-Series, the newly named Great Wall Ora Black Cat in #6, and the Chery eQ that climbed to #7 in October — making it 4 city EVs in the top 7.
But it wasn’t only city EVs rising on the table, as local EV startups continued climbing positions, with the Li Xiang One yacht large SUV rising to #9, and becoming the best selling PHEV on the table, by switching positions with the BMW 530Le.
The much hyped Xpeng P7 had reasons to celebrate, as the sedan joined the table in #20. BYD and SAIC also had a positive month. As the BYD Han EV climbed to #18 and the Tang PHEV jumped two spots to #15, and the Shanghai-based automaker saw the small Roewe Clever EV join the top 20, in #19, and the MG ZS EV crossover went up to #13.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (15%) is in the leadership, followed by #2 Tesla (12%), and the SGMW joint venture (10%, up 1 percentage point).
Below the podium, the race is tight. SAIC (7%, up 1 point) is now 4th, overcoming #5 GAC (6%), while Volkswagen (5%, down 1 point) fell from 4th to 6th in just one month — the German automaker desperately needs ID.4 units to start flooding the market, because the remaining line up is already falling behind.
Interestingly, if we were to add the SGMW (10%) tally to SAIC’s (7%), Shanghai Auto would be the market leader in China, with 17% share. …