Global plugin vehicle registrations were up 98% in September 2021 compared to September 2020, scoring a record 685,000 units (or 10.2% share of the overall auto market, the first time the global market share reached two digits). That’s a significant 16% increase over the previous record, set in June, and expect the two final months of the year to also become record months.
Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) represented 75% of plugin registrations in September, above the year-to-date tally (68%). In total, there were some 512,000 registrations of BEVs, or 7.6% share of the overall auto market.
With the YTD tally now above 4.3 million units (and at a record 7% share), and knowing that the last months of the year are traditionally strong sellers, we should be seeing the plugin vehicle (PEV) market easily surpass 6 million units this year, with the 7 million unit mark being a true possibility!
For comparison sake, 2020 ended with 3.1 million units registered. Not bad, considering the current chip shortage, eh?
While disruption is already happening in Europe and China, we should only see consistent disruptive levels on a global scale next year, which will probably get a boost from the US market as it goes into warp speed due to new incentives and the start of the ramp-up of several electric pickup trucks.
Having said that, December could be the first month to break one million units globally, as all 3 major markets (China, Europe, and USA) are expected to have record months.
The future will depend much on the development of the COVID pandemic, the economic recovery, and the chip (and battery) shortage, but whatever happens, expect plugins to continue increasing market share. Many legacy OEMs are now prioritising their plugin offerings over their fossil fuel models, because they need to have a foot in the door in the fast-growing plugin market now in order to assure their survival in a future BEV-based automotive market.
In the model ranking, it was a peak month for Tesla, and it shows, with both the #1 Tesla Model 3 and #2 Tesla Model Y hitting record months. The first hit 70,798 registrations in September and the second reached 68,469 registrations, but looking at the quarterly performances of each midsize model, which is the right approach to measure Tesla’s performance, there are significant nuances between the two. While the Model Y continues to increase its monthly average per quarter (~38,000 units), the Model 3’s third quarter performance (39,000) was its lowest since last year’s Q3. So, at this point, one can say that the sedan is now entering into its maturity stage, and Tesla’s growth prospects for the near future are mainly on the Model Y, which should regularly surpass the Model 3 soon — especially when we consider that the crossover is only now landing in Europe.
Off the podium, the rising Volkswagen ID.4 (13,138 registrations, a new record) was beaten once again by the surging BYD Qin Plus PHEV, which scored a record 15,164 registrations. With the BEV version of the midsize Chinese model also ramping up (it was #8, with a record 8,396 registrations), both versions counted together got an amazing total of 23,560 registrations. One wonders where and when the delivery ramp-up will end. Will the BYD midsizer be the first to run head to head with the Model 3?
Elsewhere, a mention goes out to several Chinese models hitting record scores — there were 12 Chinese models in September’s top 20, 6 of them with record scores. Besides the aforementioned BYD Qin Plus PHEV and BYD Qin Plus BEV, the #6 BYD Song Pro PHEV, #12 GAC Aion S, #13 XPeng P7, and #20 Letin Mango all hit new records.
Interestingly, if we count both the BEV and PHEV versions of the BYD Song Pro together, we get 14,791 units, which is above the #5 Volkswagen ID.4. So, basically, the closest competitors to both Tesla midsizers are not coming from Volkswagen but from BYD, in the form of the Qin Plus (Model 3) and Song Pro (Model Y). But more on this later….
In the traditional OEM camp, the highlights were the aforementioned Volkswagen ID.4, and VW’s lower riding #7 ID.3, with the hatchback scoring its best result in 2021 — 8,397 registrations. The #17 Hyundai Ioniq 5 continued to shine, hitting a record 6,754 units last month, while its Kia cousin, the EV6, had 2,823 registrations in its second month on the market, which means the sporty Kia is ramping up faster than its Hyundai stablemate.
Will both Koreans reach 5-digit scores soon? I presume there wouldn’t be a problem from a demand point of view, but as far as supply….
Outside the top 20, we should mention that there are 6 Chinese models in the following 10 positions, and 4 of them hit record scores (NIO ES6, Great Wall Ora Good Cat, Hozon Neta V, GAC Aion Y). So, soon we might have the majority of the top 20 belonging to Chinese brands. But more on this later….
In the YTD table, the climber of the month was the BYD Qin Plus PHEV, which jumped 4 spots to #5, with the BYD midsizer now set to go after the #4 VW ID.4. But if we were to add the BEV version volumes to the BYD sedan, the Qin Plus would actually have 89,177 registrations, which would grant it the 4th spot.
But there were other models climbing in the ranking, all coming from Asia. The GAC Aion S climbed to #10, while the Kia Niro EV profited from the slow months of the Renault Zoe and Hyundai Kona EV to jump two spots, into #12.
We have a new face in the top 20, with the XPeng P7 joining the table in #19. It’s the 10th Chinese model in the top 20, while below the #20 Ford Kuga/Escape PHEV, we should mention the rising #22 BYD Song Pro PHEV, which is some 600 units below the top 20 and should join the table next month. That would make it 11(!) Chinese models in the YTD top 20. But more on this (and dinosaurs) later….
Record Score for Tesla
In September, Tesla hit a record score of 143,143 registrations, doubling the numbers of #2 BYD, which nevertheless is continuing to ramp up production. In fact, BYD once again beat its own record, with 70,236 registrations in September.
With the seemingly never-ending record streak from the Shenzhen automaker set to continue, numbers could start to get close to Tesla’s own quarterly average, set at 80,433 units/month last quarter.
#5 SAIC also set a record in September, much thanks to export markets (it had 6,500 registrations last month alone). That, added to the continuing strong performances from SGMW, made Shanghai Auto one of the winners of the month.
Hyundai and Kia impressed in September, both with record scores, with the Ioniq 5 and EV6 providing that little extra volume to what are already very consistent lineups, so we might have these two aiming for top 5 presences soon.
Chinese EVs Rising
But the main trend is the rise and rise of the Chinese brands. Besides aforementioned BYD and SAIC, 4 other automakers had record months in September, with #12 GAC, #14 Dongfeng(!), #17 XPeng, and #19 NIO all hitting record scores. That means that out of the 9 Chinese brands in this top 20, 6(!) had record months. These 9 brands made 30% of all plugin vehicles registered last month….
And there are plenty more Chinese automakers (Li Xiang, Hozon, Letin, Weltmeister, Chery, etc.) ramping up faster than the market average, which raises the question:
From a legacy OEM point of view (say, Volkswagen’s), what is more dangerous, one T-rex or a pack of 20 velociraptors?
Sure, it is easier to focus on the T-rex and make your moves according to what that Big, Bad Beast is doing, but they have to keep a close eye also on the fast-running velociraptors. While in isolation one Velociraptor doesn’t seem that threatening, as a pack, they are far more effective in gobbling up market share than the T-rex, as they can disperse throughout the market/territory in a way the T-rex can’t. After all, one can’t imagine the Tesla-rex going into the tight spaces of city cars, for example, while a pack of 20 velociraptors (or more) can easily spread into smaller groups and go after several categories/herds at once.
And while most of these Velociraptors are still contained in their native Jurassic Park, there is an opening in the fence and soon many will follow the lead of the early pioneers (SAIC, BYD, XPeng, NIO) and spread havoc on the legacy OEM domains. Even the T-rex will have to look out!
Editor’s note: Nice metaphor.
In the YTD table, the main news was that a rising BYD has surpassed SGMW and is now the new silver medalist, while SAIC climbed to 6th at the expense of Mercedes.
There wasn’t much else to report. Although, it should be mentioned that rising #10 Kia and #11 Hyundai are now set to catch #9 Audi by the end of the year, while #14 Peugeot has shortened the distance to #13 Toyota, and #17 GAC should surpass #16 Ford next month.
Finally, Skoda managed to retain the 20th spot, but it shouldn’t for long, as #21 XPeng is just 500 units behind it. With the current production ramp-up of the Chinese startup, we should see it join the table in October.
Looking at registrations by OEM, Tesla gained market share last month thanks to its end-of-quarter peak, but it also lost a bit of share compared to last quarter (15.2% in Q2, 14.7% now). Further, YoY, it has dropped 3 percentage points below its market share in September 2020 (18% then, 15% now), which goes inline with the current trend of a soft landing of Tesla into a long term 10–12% market share interval — according to our expectations.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen Group is 2nd at 12%, 1 percentage point less than it had a year ago. Still, the German conglomerate is by far the most important legacy OEM in the plugin business, and maybe the only representative of the Old Guard in the future Big 3/4 OEMs of an EV-based automotive business.
SAIC kept its market share compared to last quarter, ending Q3 with the same 11% it had in Q2, but its 3rd spot still feels like a win. After all, a year ago, SAIC wasn’t even in the top 5.
BYD jumped two positions from Q2 to Q3, now showing up in #4, with 8% share, a full 3 point jump over the 5% it had just three months ago. I believe that by the end of the year, SAIC and Volkswagen Group will have to defend their positions from an ambitious BYD.
Stellantis kept its 5th spot with 6% share (former #4 BMW Group was kicked out of the top 5). It is a strong candidate to become one of the Old Guard OEMs in a future B-League of the automotive business, but for that to happen, its American arm (ahem, pickup trucks) needs to start moving sooner than later.
If we exclude PHEVs and focus solely on BEVs, Tesla’s share increases, naturally. It is sitting at 22% share, 1 point less than in the previous quarter. It has lost 4 percentage points YoY (it had 26% share a year ago).
SAIC is the runner-up, keeping its 14% share of Q2 but winning a full 6 percentage points of share compared to a year ago (“You’re welcome,” says the Wuling Mini EV). Meanwhile, #3 Volkswagen Group has kept its 3rd spot, with 10% share, despite losing 1 point compared to the second quarter of this year.
Off the podium, BYD is in the 4th position, with 6% share, while in 5th we have a position change, with Stellantis losing that position to Hyundai–Kia. The Korean OEM benefited from the Ioniq 5/EV6 push to jump from #7 in Q2 to the current #5 position. However, YoY, the Korean group lost 2 percentage points of market share, dropping from 7% to 5%.
But the big tumble compared to September 2020 belongs to the Renault–Nissan Alliance. A year ago, it was in 3rd place, with 9% share, while now it has less than half that share…. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
So, in short, changing from PHEV+BEV to just BEV doesn’t significantly change the overall trends, but there are differences. #1 Tesla and #2 SAIC benefit in terms of market share, while Volkswagen Group drops from #2 to #3 (replaced by SAIC). Also, more PHEV-dependent Stellantis gets replaced in #5 by more BEV-friendly Hyundai–Kia.