Global plugin vehicle registrations were up 38% in April 2022 compared to April 2021. Despite several disturbing factors happening all at once (the invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19 lockdowns in China, chip and battery shortages, supply chain disruptions …), the truth is that there were 542,000 registrations last month, representing 10.2% share of the overall auto market (7% BEV share). Considering the steep drops in the overall market, and that plugless hybrids were down for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown months of April and May 2020, that should be considered an amazing result. This poor result from plugless hybrids could mean that this year could be the peak HEV year, with 2023 being the start of downhill sales for this kind of powertrain. We’ll see.
(Toyota, take notice….)
Peak HEV is just one of the weird events that happens once EV disruption hits the automotive market. It is not only about fuel share, like diesel sales falling off a cliff in Europe. It is also about OEM standings, like the rise of Chinese OEMs in their home market, Volkswagen Group losing its grip on Europe, and the addition of Tesla to what is currently the US Big 4 (the others being Toyota, GM, Stellantis, and Ford).
In April, BEVs (+47% YoY) grew faster than PHEVs (+22%), with the latter powertrain suffering from sales drops in Europe. Year to date, the plugin share remained stable at 11% (8.3% BEV).
#1 for Wuling Mini EV
Looking at the monthly best seller table, the little Wuling Mini EV won another monthly title, its first this year, followed by the BYD Song PHEV. Thanks to a record 20,181 registrations, the Song PHEV managed to surpass the Tesla Model Y, which dropped to 3rd, harmed by the closure of Tesla’s Shanghai production unit. This is the first time the Chinese model managed to beat its American rival, and if we were to add the BEV version to the tally (4,927 units, a new record), BYD’s midsizer would get awfully close to the #1 Wuling Mini EV (25,108 vs 27,181).
Will we see BYD’s SUV win the #1 spot soon?
Just off the podium we have the expected #4 Tesla Model 3 and #5 BYD Qin PHEV. Then the Chinese midsizer has three other BYDs following suit, with the small Dolphin in #6, the large Han EV in #7, and the compact Yuan Plus in #8. So, we can say that, with the exception of the city car category, BYD had models leading sales in every size category — subcompacts (Dolphin — 12,046 units), compacts (Yuan Plus — 10,112 units, a new record), the hotly disputed midsize category (Song PHEV — 20,181, or 25,108 including the BEV version), and full-size models (Han EV — 10,243 units, or 13,439 if we include the PHEV version).
April can be considered an unusual month, due to the disruptions mentioned above, and shouldn’t be taken as a trendsetter month. It will nevertheless be interesting to see if BYD can repeat this kind of dominance in the future.
One thing is for sure, though — the Shenzhen automaker’s model lineup is a true all star constellation, with top-notch players in every position* of the game. (*Except the city car category, something BYD is expecting to solve with its future Seagull model….)
Despite such a challenging month, there were other record performers in the top half of the table. The #10 Kia EV6 scored a record 9,085 registrations, highlighting a positive month for the new generation of South Korean EVs, and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 ended the month in #9, with 9,748 registrations. The Korean models were the best selling EVs from a legacy OEM, proving that Hyundai–Kia have won the bet with these two models. That raises the question: With the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its cousin Kia EV6 not being sold in China, what is Hyundai–Kia waiting for to launch them there?!? I mean, it’s just the biggest EV market in the world….
The second half of the table saw two more record scores. The little Leap Motor T03 had a record 7,156 registrations, with the promising startup EV ending the month in #13. It got the runner-up position in the city car category, behind the all-mighty Wuling Mini EV and slightly ahead of the #14 Chery QQ Ice Cream. The other record score went to the surprising Ford Mustang Mach-E. Thanks to the start of its Chinese operations and greater availability in the Mexican plant, the electric crosser had a best ever score of 6,898 units, allowing it to jump into the top 20 in #15. Expect the stylish crossover to continue ramping up deliveries over the next few months. It might become a familiar face here.
And it wasn’t just the Ford EV benefiting from a slower month from Chinese OEMs to win a presence in the table. In #20, we have the little Fiat 500e showing up among the best sellers for the first time, with 5,615 registrations.
Stellantis could have struck gold with the little Italian, because this performance was only Europe-based, and the little EV could be a success story elsewhere — like in North America, where Fiat needs something like this to be revived; in Latin America, where Fiat’s strong position could grant it a certain degree of popularity and help kickstart EVs there; and in Asia, where it could be especially interesting to see a launch. Asia is currently Stellantis’ Achilles heel. The OEM needs a standout product to break through in the leading Asian markets, and there’s nothing quite like the 500e in the market, so the little Italian could be it.
Come on, Carlos Tavares, I know it’s not in your nature, but be bold for once and bet on the Fiat 500e in markets outside Europe! I believe you would be surprised by the results….
(And it could really compete in Asia, where small cars are a big thing. Besides, it’s not like Stellantis models are best sellers there. In the unlikely event that the 500e bombs, well, it’s just another model to join a long list of failures….)
In the year-to-date (YTD) table, the top positions remained stable. The top five positions had enough distance between each other for them not to change much. In the coming month, looking at our notes below, there are quite a few changes:
- Following the #4 BYD Song PHEV and #5 BYD Qin PHEV, we now have three more BYDs, with the Dolphin in 6th, the Han EV in 7th, and the Tang PHEV in 8th. That makes it 5 BYDs in the top 10!
- Much of this was made at the expense of the VW ID.4, which, due to the Covid-19 lockdowns in China and lack of component flow from its Ukrainian suppliers, had a slow April, forcing the German crossover to fall in the YTD table to 9th.
In the lower half of the table, the Korean Hyundai Ioniq 5, up one spot to #11, and the Kia EV6, which jumped four positions to #16, continued to climb positions. With the retro-futuristic Hyundai just 215 units behind the #9 VW ID.4, we could see the Korean jump a few more positions soon and become the best selling EV among the legacy OEMs.
Elsewhere, the Hozon Neta V climbed one position, to #18. Also, we have two new faces in the top 20 — the rising star BYD Yuan Plus joined the top 20 in #17 (on its way to join the top 10 soon), making it the 7th BYD in the table. Meanwhile, in #20, we now have the Ford Mustang Mach-E. After a few months of falling close to a top 20 position, in April, it profited from a slower month from its Chinese competitors (and a record month…) to finally join the best seller list. Will it be here to stay?
BYD in #1
In April, BYD looked immune to the Covid-19 lockdowns and scored a record result, with BYD close to 106,000 registrations. That earned it almost 20% of the global plugin market, with off-peak mode Tesla in second and SGMW in 3rd.
Below the podium, there were a few surprises. Once again, Kia (5th, 20,304 registrations) and Hyundai (7th, 18,154 registrations) showed their good form. On the other hand, Volkswagen was only #9, with just 15,034 registrations, being seriously impacted by the lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine.
It was so bad for the German brand that #8 Volvo did better than them and #10 Chery ended just 18 units behind….
In the second half of the table, #11 Dongfeng continued to improve its standing, just like Ford, which seems to have recently gotten its mojo back. Meanwhile, Shanghai-based SAIC suffered from being in the epicenter of the Covid-19 lockdowns in China, having dropped to #13.
In the last position on the table, we have the Chinese EV startup Leap Motor, which profited from a record result of its bread & butter model, the T03. The brand scored a record 9,087 registrations and a top 20 presence. The little known Chinese startup, which only landed on the market in 2019, has big ambitions. With popular models, like the little T03, the Model Y-like C11, and the upcoming C01, we could be in the presence of another Chinese dark horse.
In the YTD table, BYD returned to the top spot, surpassing Tesla, with both brands returning to the same standings and spacing that they had at the end of January (around 42,000 units between them).
With Tesla expected to have a lower delivery output this quarter than in Q1, it could be the case that BYD could end this quarter slightly ahead of Tesla, but then again, that is assuming BYD will continue posting 100,000+ performances in May and June, something that is not yet proven, especially in May (as the Covid-19 lockdowns have still affected May sales in China).
Below these two, which are really in a league of their own, the SGMW joint venture is comfortable in 3rd. Below it, BMW gained precious advantage over 5th placed Volkswagen, while Kia jumped three positions to #7. Another climber, #9 Chery, is now ahead of #10 SAIC, with #11 Volvo just 184 units behind the top 10 rankings. The race is tight between these three.
Looking at the remaining top 20, Dongfeng was up one spot, to #14, while XPeng and Peugeot were up two positions each, to #16 and #17, respectively — both profiting from slow months from OEMs like Great Wall and Li Xiang.
A final reference goes out to the reappearance of Ford in the table, in #19. It all looks like the Dearborn automaker has left its battery issues behind and is ready to Make the Blue Oval Great Again.
Let’s look at registrations by OEM. At the end of Q1, Tesla was leading with 15.5% share, with a 1.2 percentage point advantage over BYD. Now, BYD is the new leader, with 15.4% share, up 1.1 points. Tesla’s down to second, with 13.7% share. Will the Shenzhen automaker keep its lead over Tesla throughout 2022? I believe that during the second half of the year, Tesla will win the upper hand, because it has higher growth potential. Unless, of course, BYD starts to export really big volumes in the second half of the year, something like tens of thousands of cars per month. However, I only expect that to happen by 2023.
SAIC (8.3%, down 0.2 of a point compared to Q1) and Volkswagen Group (7.6%, also down 0.2 of a point) remained in 3rd and 4th, respectively, while rising #5 Hyundai–Kia (5.7%, up 0.3 of a point) surpassed Geely–Volvo, with the Koreans now starting to show up in the rearview mirror of #4 Volkswagen Group.
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