16% Plugin Vehicle Share In Chinese Auto Market!

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Plugin vehicles are all the rage in China, having scored 325,000 registrations in October, up 113% year over year (YoY). That’s an especially impressive performance when we consider that the overall market was down 5%.

This pulls the year-to-date (YTD) tally to over to 2.3 million units, and with further record performances set to come in the last couple of months, we should have over 3 million registrations by the end of the year … almost three times as many as the 2020 result!

Share-wise, with October showing another great performance, plugin vehicles hit 16% market share last month (13% full electrics/BEVs). This pulled the 2021 share to 13.7% (11.1% BEV), and considering that the last quarter of the year is usually China’s strongest, we can now safely assume that the country’s plugin vehicle market share will end above the 15% mark this year.

Another measure of the importance of this market is the fact that China alone represented over half of global plugin registrations in October!

Looking at October’s best sellers, we have the usual Wuling Mini EV winner on top, followed by one Tesla and three BYDs.

Here’s more info and commentary on October’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV

With 39,128 registrations last month, the tiny four-seater won another best seller title and added another runner-up spot in overall ranking. With the little Wuling set to resume its trail of records in November, a 400,000+ score by the end of the year is likely for the small EV. With this kind of scale, it is natural that the joint venture is turning a profit on its star EV (probably a small one, admittedly), which opens up the prospect of exporting the vehicle. It also opens up the prospect of further product development. An announced refresh (slightly longer wheelbase, 26 kWh battery, more powerful electric motor, updated features) is already coming our way in order to keep the model one step ahead of the competition. The Wuling EV has become a trendsetter and a disruptive force in urban mobility, with the added bonus that the people buying it (mostly females under 35 years old) are usually a hard-to-capture audience. This is a new chapter in EV mobility.

#2 — BYD Qin Plus PHEV (& #5 BYD Qin Plus EV)

The BYD Qin has been the bread and butter model for the Chinese automaker for a long time, and surfing the wave of the Han’s success, BYD went all in with its Qin Plus. With a 72 kWh battery in the EV version (and 18 kWh one in the PHEV version), for only 185,000 CNY ($28,300 USD) in the fully electric version, the midsize model is very competitive. Both versions once again hit records in October. The PHEV version reached 17,503 registrations, winning the silver medal in the October plugin ranking, while the BEV version had 8,405 registrations, allowing it to join the top 5 for the first time ever. If we add both versions together, we get 25,908 registrations, placing the Qin Plus in 8th in the overall market!

#3 — Tesla Model Y

Tesla’s most recent addition to the lineup had its strongest first month of quarter yet in China (13,303 registrations), which could mean one of two things — either Tesla is smoothing out this model’s deliveries in China, or … the crossover is headed for a record month in December! Perhaps above 40,000 units? With the little Wuling Mini EV surely crossing that barrier in December and the BYD Qin Plus also scoring something around that number, we might have a 100% plugin podium in December’s overall market! And would it be asking too much for the Model 3 to get a 35,000 peak in December, so we could get 4 plugins in the top 5?… Please, Santa, please…

#4 — BYD Song Pro/Plus PHEV

The compact-to-midsize crossover from BYD has profited from the spec updates of its Qin Plus sibling to become a force to be reckoned with, becoming not only the best selling domestic model in the category, but also hoping to replicate the success of the Tesla Model Y. Will it be able to do it? I have my doubts. The Qin Plus seems better prepared to race the Model 3, while on the other hand, the Model Y will continue to benefit from the novelty factor for a while, something that the Model 3 lacks. Anyway, with consecutive record performances, the latest being October’s 11,316 registrations, and the help of an also rising BEV version (4,588 registrations last month), the current 16,000 units allow it to envision an overall top 10 presence soon. So, we might have 5 plugin models in the Chinese overall top 10 by December! Imagine that — half of China’s best sellers being plugins! Now, that’s disruption.

#6 — BYD Han EV

After a few months of absence, BYD’s flagship model returned to the top 5 thanks to 8,287 registrations, its best score since January. If we include the PHEV version (2,800 registrations) with the BEV version, we get 11,087 registrations, thus making it three BYDs (Qin, Song, and Han) above the 10,000 mark last month. That says a lot about the strength of the automaker’s lineup. And a 4th element might reach 5 digits soon … but more on that later. Regarding the career of the Han EV, BYD’s flagship electric model should continue to cruise at around 8,000-ish registrations per month. That’s the reference for every other full size model on the market.

Looking at the remaining best seller table in October, records continue aplenty, as 9 models had record performances in the top 20. Besides the aforementioned BYDs, a mention also goes out to the quick ramp-up of the BYD Dolphin, which hit 6,018 registrations in only its 3rd month on sale, allowing it to reach the table for the first time, in #17.

Expect the compact EV to reach 5 digits soon, maybe already in December. The Dolphin is expected to become BYD’s star player in 2022 — not only at home, but especially in overseas markets, where the automaker has high expectations for it.

But enough about BYD. Other models with record scores were the #8 Great Wall Good Cat (7,845 units, a great result for the quirky hatchback that is preparing for its landing in Europe in a few months) and the #10 Volkswagen ID.4 (7,430 units, showing that it’s continuing to ramp up in China — now for the 5th month in a row). A new brand that is rising is Pocco, with its Kei-car-like 4-seat DuoDuo (a record 6,018 registrations) already showing up in #18 ± in only its 3rd month on the market! Below it, we have the #19 SOL E10X (5,322 registrations) and the #20 Hozon Neta V (5,178 registrations). All of those models had record scores!

But outside the top 20, there is also plenty to talk about. The compact XPeng G3 scored 3,657 registrations, its best result in a long time, while the Hozon Neta U (2,929 registrations) and Weltmeister E5 (3,171 registrations) startup models continued their ramp-up. Hozon and Weltmeister are surely hoping to reach the top 20 in the near future.

Still in the startup section, the challenging life of Seres seems to be in much calmer waters now, allowing it to focus on ramping up production. Its midsize SF5 finally reached decent volumes, with October bringing a record 2,205 registrations. For the people less acquainted with Seres (probably the vast majority of readers), this brand was originally established as SF Motors in 2016 in Santa Clara, California. Ring a bell? It had Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard as Strategic Advisor, and this year Huawei partnered with the brand, helping it in developing and marketing its models. With Huawei as a backer, we should follow this startup closely.

Finally, we should mention the landing of the VW ID.3, with 1,335 registrations. While this shouldn’t be the star in VW’s Chinese lineup — that role is for the ID.4 — we should see it clock some 5,000 to 6,000 units/month, helping out the German brand to recover ground to the competition.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the podium positions remained the same. But with the #3 Model Y now just 6,000 units behind its slowing Model 3 sibling, we should see these two change positions in December.

Immediately below the podium, the #4 BYD Qin Plus PHEV distanced itself from the #5 BYD Han EV, and if we were to add both versions of the Qin Plus, BEV and PHEV, together, the midsizer would have some 115,000 units, enough to beat the Model 3 and become the silver medalist!

But the first position change only happened in #11, where the BYD Song PHEV jumped two positions in what was another positive month for the Shenzhen maker. Besides the SUV’s rise, the Qin Plus EV was also up to #14, while the Tang PHEV is now #17.

Another model on the rise is Great Wall’s Ora Good Cat, which climbed to #18, while the VW ID.4 joined the table in #20, becoming only the 3rd foreign model in the top 20 — still well below both Tesla’s midsizers. Looking on the bright side, at least the German crossover is now showing up on the radar. Will it stay in the top 20 until the end of the year?

Finally, we have another BYD on the rise, with the compact Yuan EV fewer than 5,000 units from the table. We might see it join the table in the last leg of the 2021 race.

Looking at the automaker ranking, BYD (18%, up 1 point) has reinforced its leadership position. The Shenzhen automaker is now preparing to win its 8th automaker title, while the SGMW joint venture (15%, down 1 percentage point) is slowly sliding down, as it lacks models to help the Wuling Mini EV’s big success.

Tesla (10%, down 1 point) is comfortable in 3rd, while below the podium, SAIC (6%) is stable in 4th, followed by #5 Great Wall, #6 GAC, and #7 Changan, with 4% each. These are followed by a pack of brands with 3% share, among them a rising Volkswagen.

Looking at OEMs, with BYD’s current takeover of the market, SAIC (21%, down 1 point) is feeling the heat. With just 3 percentage points separating them, we are headed for a surprise towards the end of the year.

The same can’t be said regarding the best selling foreigner race. Despite Volkswagen Group’s best efforts, its share (4%) just isn’t enough to bother Tesla (10% markets share).

Still, the recent sales uptake has allowed the German conglomerate to reach 5th in the OEM race, and with just 2,000 units separating it from #4 Great Wall, we should see it climb another position soon, ending the year just off the podium.

Now, having gotten to 4th in 2021, will Volkswagen Group get close to the OEM podium next year? Please place your bets now. …

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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 447 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes