China Electric Car Market — 31% Market Share In May!

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BYD achieves another record month in the electric car market! Plugin vehicles continue to be all the rage in the Chinese auto market. With the end of the covid lockdowns, plugins went back to the fast lane, growing 109% year over year (YoY). They scored over 403,000 registrations in May, with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) surging 187% year over year (YoY) to a record 105,000 units. Their growth even beat that of BEVs, which grew a paltry 91%….

Share-wise, with May showing another great performance, plugin vehicles hit 31% market share! Full electrics (BEVs) alone accounted for 23% of the country’s auto sales! This pulled the 2022 share to 25% (20% 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.

Looking at May best sellers, with BYD hitting yet another record month and its models crowding the top spots, I have decided from now on to group the BEV and PHEV versions in just one row, instead of separating them, or else in a few months we would be only talking about BYD, Tesla, and the little Wuling Mini EV that could, leaving out many interesting models. And even with this grouping, BYD has 6 representatives in both tables, almost a third of the models represented there….

In May’s overall ranking, the Wuling Mini EV won another Best Seller title, while the BYD Song (BEV + PHEV) ended the month in 3rd and the BYD Han (BEV + PHEV) was 4th, thus putting 3 plugin models in the overall top 5. And this was done without any Tesla, so expect at least 5 plugins in the overall top 10 in the quarter-end peak month of June!

Here were last month’s top 5:

#1 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV

With 34,037 registrations last month, the tiny four-seater won another overall best seller title, its fifth. With this kind of scale, it is natural that the joint venture is turning a profit on its star EV (a small one, admittedly). With the little EV now cruising around 30,000-plus units per month, the Wuling EV has become a trendsetter and a disruptive force in urban mobility, racking up big trophies in the cutthroat Chinese market. And while many deride it for “not really being a car,” the truth is that for a little over $4,000 USD, you have an EV that has 4 wheels, 4 seats, and a roof, which for many is enough to run their daily errands. The added bonus is that the people buying it (mostly females, mostly 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 Plus (BEV+PHEV)

BYD is looking to replicate the Model Y’s success with its own midsized SUV, with its ramp-up still in full swing. The PHEV version got a record 26,460 registrations in May, while the BEV hit a record 5,529 registrations. This earned it the runner-up spot, with 31,989 registrations, besides the 3rd spot overall. At this point, the Song is already above the Q1 Model Y’s monthly average (24,763 units/month). The next challenge will be removing the little Wuling Mini EV from the leadership spot. And the ramp-up continues….

#3 — BYD Han (BEV+PHEV) 

BYD’s flagship sedan secured a best ever 23,934 deliveries in May, which is the result of a record 12,684 units of the BEV version and an amazing 11,250 units of the PHEV version, more than doubling the result of the previous record for the PHEV version. This is the result of the market launch of a slight facelift and revised specs, like a new 85 kWh battery for the BEV version and up to 38 kWh battery versions for the PHEVs, making both versions truly class-leading when we look at their pricing ($33,000 USD for the PHEV version and $41,000 USD for the BEV — less than a base Tesla Model 3). This sales surge meant the full size BYD ended the month in 4th among the overall best sellers, an impressive feat for such a large car. With the revised Han said to have tens of thousands of orders waiting to be produced, expect the big sedan to stay among the top selling models during the coming months, even if that means a higher ratio of PHEVs in its mix. In fact, with average sales now set at around 170,000 units/year, expect it to win the full size category, not only in China, but also globally.

#4 — BYD Qin Plus (BEV+PHEV) 

Like Tesla’s Model 3, the BYD Qin has been the bread and butter model for the Chinese automaker for a long time, but now it is suffering from internal competition. In its case, this is not only from its SUV sibling, the Song, but also from above (the revised Han) and from the next generation of midsizers — the Destroyer 05 (competition for the PHEV version) and the upcoming Seal (BEV version). So, the fact that it kept selling over 17,000 units in May is an impressive feat all by itself. The PHEV version reached 11,095 registrations in May, while the BEV version had 6,848 registrations, contributing for the Qin Plus 17,943 registrations performance last month. With the internal competition heating up — the BYD Destroyer 05 is already ramping up, while the Seal’s landing is just a couple of months away — I think the Qin’s future performances will suffer, as 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. The base version of the attractive Seal is 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).

#5 — BYD Yuan Plus EV 

Probably the future LeBron James major player of BYD’s All Star lineup on the global stage, the recent Yuan Plus continues to ramp up deliveries. It scored yet another record month, this time with 11,500 registrations, earning its first (of many) top 5 performances after only 6 months on the market. Will it be able to reach the podium soon? Although that isn’t out of the question, I believe the Yuan Plus’s main role in BYD’s lineup will be to become the automaker’s breadwinner in overseas markets, where it will benefit from its more suitable body (it’s a compact crossover). Volkswagen ID.4, take notice…

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 Shenzhen automaker also has the Tang (BEV+PHEV) model in 11th and the Dolphin in 14th, thus placing 6 models in last month’s 20 top sellers!

It also completes BYD’s lineup of sales champs in every category (Han in the full size category; Song as midsize king; Yuan in the compact category; and Dolphin in the subcompact category). And let’s not forget the upcoming BYD Seagull, the automaker’s future representative in the city EV category….

But enough about BYD — with the Li Xiang One returning to its former self, #6 with 11,496 registrations, GAC’S Aion S was one of the surprises of the month, surging to 7th with a record 10,503 registrations. That was its first five-digit score ever, while its MPV sibling, the Aion Y, ended the month in a respectable 12th spot, highlighting GAC’s positive month.

In the second half of the table, we see Tesla’s Model Y and SAIC’s Roewe Clever EV returning to the table, thanks to the easing of Covid-19 measures in the Shanghai area. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen ID.4 also showed up again, in #18, with 5,661 registrations. Thus, there were two foreign models in this top 20.

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In the last place in the table, we salute the appearance of the AITO M5 EREV, with 5,033 registrations in only its 6th month on the market, a new record for the hi tech midsize SUV and a sign that its production ramp-up is in full swing. 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.

Outside the top 20 electric car sales champions, we have another BYD gaining pace, with the new Destroyer 05 PHEV having 4,558 registrations in only its third month on the market. We also have the Dongfeng Fengshen EX1, aka rebadged Dacia Spring, ramping up. It reached 3,209 units last month.

But the momentum really belongs to the New Blood, those Chinese brands that apparently are coming out of nowhere and popping up everywhere, like mushrooms. That includes: Leap Motor’s C11 midsize SUV jumping to 4,345 units last month, Zeekr’s 001 full size model going up to 4,330 units, and NIO’s new ET7 stylish flagship also ramping up, in this case to 2,188 units.

Looking at the 2022 ranking, the BYD Han switched positions with its Dolphin sibling, with the flagship sedan now in 5th, while the BYD Yuan Plus jumped to #11. It shouldn’t take long until the compact crossover reaches the first half of the table.

In the second half of the electric car sales table, we should highlight both GAC models climbing onto the table, with the Aion Y (go, team MPV!) jumping to #14 and the Aion S going up three spots to #16.

electric car market by model

Leap Motor’s T03 also had reasons to smile, climbing two spots to #18 on the electric car charts, and highlighting the small EV’s successful career in China and its bread and butter status in the startup lineup.

We also have a face returning to the table, with the Volkswagen ID.4 rejoining the ranking in #20, thus making it three foreign models in the top 20.

Looking at the auto brand ranking in electric car sales, BYD (27.9%, up 0.1% share) remains the dominant force. It was the 3rd best selling brand in the overall market, thanks in part to a record 114,000 plugin vehicle sales. It is only behind Volkswagen and Toyota at the moment. Although, I feel this ranking is bound to change in the coming months as the market continues to transition further into electrification and BYD profits from the EV disruption.

Regarding the plugin market only, behind leader BYD we have runner-up SGMW (10.1%) in 2nd position, losing 0.2% share from the fact that it’s currently a one-trick pony (Wuling Mini EV) in an increasingly pulverised market where you need a lineup of models selling in high volume to remain successful. At this moment, the Shenzhen automaker already has its 9th automaker title in the bag.

Despite having a bad month, Tesla (6.6%, down 1.2% share from 7.8%) is stable in 3rd and should rebound significantly in June. Will it reach 80,000 units next month? Chery (4.9%, up slightly from 4.8%) stayed in 4th, and GAC (4.2%, up from 3.9%) has gained ground over #6 SAIC (3.6%), meaning it is safe in the 5th place position.

plugin electric car market share by brand

Looking at OEMs/automotive groups/alliances in the electric car space, BYD is comfortably leading, while SAIC (13.7%, up from 13.4%) remains steady in the runner-up spot for electric car sales. Tesla is also firm in the last place on the podium.

Outside of the electric car sales podium, Chery (5.0%, up 0.1 point) remains ahead of Geely–Volvo (4.6%) and is holding onto its 4th place position. Volkswagen Group (3.6%, up 0.1 point) recovered a bit, but it is still #8 behind Dongfeng (also 3.6%) and #6 GAC (4.4%).

With BYD said to score some 140,000 units in June, and with expectations that the following months will see it reach even higher ground, it will be a question of time (end of Q3?) until the Chinese automaker surpasses Volkswagen and Toyota in the overall market. By then, to avoid market saturation, the Shenzhen OEM will only have one way to grow: Exports.

And BYD is doing its homework — although, differently from others (like SAIC or Geely). Instead of focusing on Europe and adding other markets as secondary targets, BYD is not really rushing into Europe. Instead, it is laying its first bases in Latin America and Asia-Pacific markets, where it is already having some success stories — like in Costa Rica, where it expects to deliver a few thousand units this year. By doing this in markets that others are leaving dry, it is doing a good service to the EV revolution. Also, by providing units where others don’t, it is of course doing a good service for itself. By having over 50% share of those emerging markets, once EVs go mainstream there, guess who will profit the most?…

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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 477 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes