China Electric Car Market — 29% Market Share In April!

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BYD achieves record month in Covid-disrupted market

Plugin vehicles continue to be all the rage in the Chinese auto market. Despite the overall market being completely disrupted by Covid lockdowns (-43% year over year), plugins scored over 260,000 registrations in April, up 61% year over year (YoY).

Share-wise, with April showing another great performance, plugin vehicles hit 29% market share! Full electrics (BEVs) alone accounted for 22% of the country’s auto sales! This pulled the 2022 share to 22% (17% BEV).

If electrification continues at this pace, this market will be BEV-based by 2025! Imagine that: the largest automotive market in the world being BEV-based in three years time!

Another measure of the importance of this market is the fact that China alone represented over half of global plugin registrations last month.

BYD has 9 out of the 20 best selling plugin models in China! Chart by CleanTechnica.

Looking at April best sellers, we should first celebrate the fact that for the first time ever, we had 5 plugin models in the overall top 10, as the Wuling Mini EV (1st position), BYD Song (3rd — BEV + PHEV), BYD Qin Plus (4th — BEV + PHEV), BYD Han (8th — BEV + PHEV), and BYD Dolphin (10th) all ended inside the overall top 10. And this was done without any Tesla, so in June, we might see 7 plugins in the overall top 10!

For the record, the remaining 5 fossil-fueled models in the top 10 were: Nissan Sylphy (#2), Toyota Levin, Toyota Camry (#4), Haval H6, and VW Sagitar. 

Here were last month’s top 5:

#1 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV

With 27,181 registrations last month, the tiny four-seater won another overall best seller title, its fourth. With this kind of scale, it is natural that the joint venture is turning a profit on its star EV (a small one, admittedly). Perhaps this is why they are preparing the expansion of the little EV to overseas markets, like Indonesia and India. (And then, the rest of the world?). The overseas model is said to be slightly longer, to have a 26 kWh battery, to have a more powerful electric motor, to include updated features, and … to come with a convertible version might be exported, too. The Wuling EV has become a trendsetter and a disruptive force in urban mobility. The added bonus is that the people buying it (mostly females under 35 years old) are usually a hard-to-capture audience. The model and its success mark a new chapter in EV mobility.

#2 — BYD Song Pro/Plus PHEV

BYD is looking to replicate the Model Y’s success with its own midsized SUV. Its rise and rise is proof of that, with the PHEV version getting 20,181 registrations in April, earning it the runner-up spot. Besides another great performance from the PHEV version, the BEV version had a record 4,927 registrations, leading to a total of 25,108 registrations, which allowed it to rise to #3 in the overall market. With the BYD midsizer scoring a 23,000 units/month average in Q1, the Song is already above the Model Y’s monthly average (24,763 units/month). And the ramp-up continues….

#3 — BYD Qin Plus PHEV 

Like Tesla’s Model 3, the BYD Qin has been the bread and butter model for the Chinese automaker for a long time. The PHEV version reached 12,465 registrations in April, a somewhat underwhelming performance compared with the 18,449 registrations of January. Combined with the BEV version, which had 7,827 registrations, the Qin Plus had 20,292 registrations, placing it in 4th in the overall market. Still, I believe the recent internal competition — the BYD Seal for the BEV version and the Destroyer 05 for the PHEV version, will hurt the Qin’s future performances. These two new midsize sedans are part of the new Ocean generation of BYD plugins. (Marine animal names were given to the BEVs using the 3.0 dedicated e-platform — Dolphin, Seal, etc. — and military vessel names were provided for the PHEVs — Destroyer, Frigate, etc. Besides competitive specs, the main selling point of BYD’s Ocean lineup is the price, with the base version of the attractive Seal set to start at $35,000 USD. That’s significantly lower than the base version of the made-in-China Tesla Model 3 ($44,000 USD).

#4 — BYD Dolphin 

The car that launched the 3rd generation of BYD plugins scored another record performance, 12,040 units, with the space-efficient hatchback coming closer to BYD’s dynamic duo, the Qin and Song, while ending April in the overall top 10. Will it be able to reach podium positions soon? Although that isn’t out of the question, hatchbacks that do not belong to the city car category aren’t that popular in China, so I imagine that the Dolphin should hover between the 5th and 10th positions, leaving higher positions to its platform sibling, the Yuan Plus, which benefits from its more fashionable body (it’s a compact crossover).

#5 — BYD Han EV 

BYD’s flagship sedan secured 10,225 deliveries in April, which added to the 3,196 units of the PHEV version. That means the big BYD ended the month in 8th among the overall best sellers, an impressive feat. With the PHEV side of the Han model receiving additional versions in the coming months, expect the big sedan to stay among the top selling models, even if that means a higher ratio of PHEVs in its mix. In fact, that might prove essential to win the full size category, not only in China, but also globally.

Looking at the rest of the best seller table, we can see BYD flexing its muscles. Besides placing 4 models in the top 5, the following three positions also belong to it, thus placing 7 models in last month’s 8 top sellers!

Besides the aforementioned models, the rise and rise of the #6 BYD Yuan Plus continues. In only its 5th month on the market, the crossover continues to ramp up deliveries (10,100 units), with the compact EV set to become BYD’s star player soon (and VW ID.4 Terminator — it should be no coincidence that the German model has disappeared from the top 20). It thus completes BYD’s lineup of sales champs in every category (Han/Tang in the full size category; Qin/Song as midsize Tesla *****ers; Yuan in the compact category; and Dolphin in subcompacts). And let’s not forget the upcoming BYD Seagull, the maker’s future representative in the city EV category…. [Editor’s note: These names … hahaha.]

But enough about BYD — Leap Motor is on a roll as well. Besides the recent presentation of the competitive C01 sedan and the successful launch of the C11 SUV, the Chinese startup also celebrated a record score of its small T03 (7,156 units), allowing it to be 9th in the plugin table, just behind the BYD Armada.

In the second half of the table, a mention also goes out to the good scores (considering the circumstances…) of GAC’s Aion Y and Hozon’s Neta V. The Aion Y had 5,261 registrations, pulling it to #14 (will this compact model signal the return of the MPV?), while the Neta V did even better, ending the month in #13 by registering 5,694 units.

In the last place in the table, we salute the appearance of XPeng’s P5 model, with the midsize EV scoring 3,564 units.

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Outside the top 20, we have another BYD gaining pace, with the new Destroyer 05 PHEV having 2,040 registrations in only its second month on the market, while Hozon’s Neta U, the posher relative of the Neta V, scored 3,119 units, highlighting a positive month for the startup brand.

Still on the theme of SUVs coming from Chinese startups, AITO’s M5 model scored 3,245 registrations in April, in only its 5th month on the market. We should follow this model’s career closely — with tech giant Huawei among its founders, we should not dismiss it as just another Chinese startup.

Wuling HongGuang Mini EV still has a giant lead in year-to-date plugin vehicle sales in China. Chart by CleanTechnica.

Looking at the 2022 ranking, the BYD Song PHEV is the new silver medalist, pushing the Tesla Model Y down to 3rd, while the Tesla Model 3 fared even worse, falling 5 positions to 10th, to the benefit of BYD models like the Dolphin, now in 5th, the Han EV (6th), or the Tang PHEV (8th). The Shenzhen automaker now has five representatives among the YTD top 8 best sellers.

The second half of the table also had significant changes, with last month’s biggest climber being the BYD Yuan Plus, which jumped 5 positions into #14 — and expect the crossover to continue climbing well into the top 10.

Hozon’s Neta V also had reasons to smile, climbing to #15, highlighting the small crossover’s successful career in China.

We also have a new face in the table, with the little Leap Motor T03 joining the table in #20.

As implied above, BYD is king of plugin vehicle brands in China. Chart by CleanTechnica.

Looking at the auto brand ranking, the major news was the fact that BYD, up an amazing 129% YoY, was the best selling brand in the overall market, thanks to a record 105,000 units. It even beat perennial winner Volkswagen. And while the covid-related lockdowns had a lot to do with this event, the truth is that in the yearly numbers, BYD is now 4th, only behind heavyweights Volkswagen, Toyota, and Honda. Expect the Chinese automaker to continue climbing in the overall ranking, as it profits from the current EV disruption.

Back at plugins, BYD (27.8%, up 2.5%) benefited from its amazing April performance to increase its lead over runner-up SGMW (10,3%) in 2nd position. The Shenzhen automaker is looking to win its 9th automaker title this year.

Tesla (7.8%) is stable in 3rd, while Chery (4.8%, up 0.1 point) stayed in 4th and GAC (3.9%) is racing to keep its 5th position from Geely (3.7%).

BYD is also king among plugin vehicle producers/OEMs in China. Chart by CleanTechnica.

Looking at OEMs/automotive groups/alliances, BYD is comfortably leading, while SAIC (13.4%, down 0.3%) remains steady in the runner-up spot. Tesla is also firm in the last place on the podium.

Off the podium, Chery (4.9%, up 0.2 points) remains ahead of Geely–Volvo (4.6%, up 0.1 point) and is keeping its 4th place spot. Volkswagen Group (3.5%, down 0.2 points) had another horrible month, losing another position to the new 7th positioned Dongfeng.

And with XPeng (3.1%) not that far away, we could soon see the Chinese startup surpass the (still almighty) Volkswagen Group. … Disruption, anyone?

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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 473 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes