China Electric Car Sales — 25% Fully Electric, 35% Have A Plug!

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Despite a drop in the overall Chinese auto market, plugin vehicles continue to rise. They grew 50% year over year (YoY) in November. They scored over 625,000 registrations last month, their second best month ever, only behind last September when they hit 636,000 registrations. Plugin hybrids (PHEVs) jumped 88% year over year (YoY). They reached 172,000 registrations in November, which is their seventh record month in row.

But it seems the time for crazy fast growth in the Chinese plugin market is coming to an end, because November’s 88% growth rate is in fact the fist time since April 2021 that the PHEV market didn’t get a three-digit growth rate. And this is also replicated in the BEV field — last month’s 40% growth rate is its lowest growth rate since June 2020.

If Chinese OEMs wish to continue doubling their sales, as many have been so far, now there is only way to do it: exports.

Then again, with plugin shares roughly at one third of the total market, plugin vehicles hit 35% market share in November, and 30% YTD, while full electrics (BEVs) alone accounted for 25% of the country’s auto sales last month (22% YTD). This slowdown in growth rate was bound to happen.

Still, if electrification stabilizes at around 50% growth rates, expect the plugin share to be at some 45% in a year from now, with BEVs owning one third (33%) of the Chinese market!

And expect BEVs to cross the 50% share threshold by 2025! Imagine that: the largest automotive market in the world being BEV-based in two or 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.

20 Top Selling Plugin Vehicles in China — November 2022

Here’s more info and context on last month’s top 5:

#1 — BYD Song Plus (BEV + PHEV)

BYD’s midsize SUV continued its success story in November, again with a record score! The PHEV version got a record 57,146 registrations, while the BEV hit a record 6,999 registrations, leading to a grand total of 64,145 registrations, a new record for the BYD model. This result is far above the Q3 monthly average of 42,066 units/month last quarter, which means Q4 should post a monthly average above 50,000 — which is becoming truly insane! Still, the Song ramp-up should be in its last stages, as it is getting close to reaching the market’s natural limits. In fact, it is said that a portion of the PHEV version numbers come from pre-registrations, in order to bank on the current subsidies. With the removal of subsidies next January, the PHEV version should have a slow Q1 (and Q2?) in 2023 in China. This could be partially compensated  by starting to export its SUV in larger numbers, but it is doubtful that will fully compensate for the drop in its domestic market. Time, then, for the BEV production to be ramped up accordingly?

#2 — Tesla Model Y 

Despite being exported massively, Tesla’s midsize crossover still had enough room to score 52,424 registrations in China last month, a new record. Questions remain over the December result, and whether demand for the model has reached its peak, but one thing is for certain: right now the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 are the only foreign models able to run at the same pace as the local heroes. What’s next for both models in 2023? Like most things in the Chinese EV market, no one really knows, but it sure would help if Tesla rolled out a refresh on its midsizers, especially on the Model 3. The Model 3 ended 2021 in 3rd, and this year should end in 9th. … Something to think about at Tesla’s HQ.

#3 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV

With 31,982 registrations last month, the tiny four-seater took the bronze medal. This result was below the Q3 monthly average of 36,137 units/month. “The little EV that could” saga continues, but it seems the many clones and competitors that it now has to compete with are starting to erode the Wuling’s dominant “city EV” position in the market. Still, SAIC’s and GM’s electric offspring has been a trendsetter and a disruptive force in urban mobility. And while many deride it for “not really being a car,” the truth is that it managed to create a whole new vehicle category, as proven by the large number of Wuling Mini EV copycat/inspired models being launched in this market. This model’s success story marks a new chapter in urban mobility.

#4 — BYD Han (BEV + PHEV) 

BYD’s flagship sedan secured 31,580 registrations in November, which is the result of a record 13,177 registrations of the BEV version and a record 18,403 registrations of the PHEV version. The big BYD was well above its Q3 monthly average of 27,585 units/month. The flagship sedan is expected to end the year at around 275,000 registrations. These are not only extraordinary numbers for a full size model in China, all powertrains counted, but this starts to get relevant in the global numbers of the full size category.

#5 — BYD Dolphin

BYD’s smallest EV (until now) continues to ramp up both production and deliveries, with the 26,029 units of November representing its 5th record in a row! The small MPV-shaped hatchback, not unlike the original Chevrolet Bolt, is proving to be a success in the overall market. Its success is even more remarkable considering the small BYD sits in a middle-of-nowhere category in China — B-segment/subcompact cars aren’t really popular, squashed between the immense popularity of tiny city cars and the more mainstream appeal of compact sedans and crossovers. Still, China isn’t the Dolphin’s only mission. BYD also expects the small EV to be quite popular in overseas markets, from Southeast Asia to Latin America, with an obvious stop in the B-segment friendly European market.

Outside the top 5, we have four more BYD models, from #6 to #9. That means there are 7 BYDs in November’s 9 top sellers, with the highlight being the recent Seal midsize sedan, which jumped to #9 in only its fourth month on the market with 15,356 registrations. Although, the instant popularity of the streamlined Seal is starting to make a dent in the sales of the remaining midsize BYD offerings, with the Qin Plus dropping from previous podium positions to 7th last month and the also recent Destroyer 05 simply getting kicked out of the top 20, having gotten just 6,032 registrations last month.

Expect the Seal to end December at over 20,000 units/month, which would be a good base for its podium ambitions in 2023.

But enough about BYD — other brands and models also deserve a mention. GAC’s Aion S (15,323 registrations) had its fourth record month in a row. Changan also deserves a mention, not because of record results, but because the Chongqing make managed to place three models on the table. Only BYD was able to place more models in the top 20. As far as those three models, the cute as a button Lumin city EV ended the month in #13, the Toyota Yaris-like Benni EV reached #17, and the brand’s take on the “Tesla Model 3 formula,” the Shenlan SL03, managed to end the month in #20.

With the make’s interpretation of the Tesla Model Y/BYD Song set to land soon, Changan should become a player to watch closely in 2023.

Looking at Geely’s squad, the only highlight was the Zeekr 001. With the big fastback continuing to ramp up, it ended October in #14 thanks to 11,011 registrations. That was its fifth record month in a row and the only record score in the Geely stable. Has Geely’s lineup already found its demand limits?

Outside the top 20, one highlight regards the ramp-up of the recently introduced NIO ES7, getting 4,897 registrations in its fourth month on the market. We also celebrate the volume landing of three new models. First, there’s Li Auto’s real successor to the ONE model, the slightly-less-full-size-than-the-L9-land-yacht L8, which delivered an impressive 5,293 registrations. There’s also Great Wall’s Panamera-inspired Ora Lightning Cat (3,031 registrations). And, finally, BYD’s premium brand Denza launched the big and brash D9 MPV, with 3,031 units being delivered in November.

BYD Song Is The New #1

Looking at the 2022 ranking, the big news is the BYD Song stealing the leadership position from the little Wuling Mini EV, and considering the different market dynamics of the two models, the Shenzhen automaker can already start to prepare the best seller party for its midsize SUV. It will be succeeding the little Wuling, the 2021 winner, in that honour.

20 Top Selling Plugin Vehicles in China — January–November 2022

The BYD SUV won’t come close to half a million units by year end, but the 470,000 units will be nevertheless an impressive score, and an improvement over the 424,000 units achieved by the 2021 best seller, the Wuling Mini EV.

Meanwhile, the #3 BYD Qin Plus lost important ground over the Tesla Model Y in the race for the last place on the podium. With some 5,000 units separating them, and the crossover possibly selling some 10,000 units more than the midsize BYD, expect the US model to recover the 3rd spot in December.

The BYD Han is comfortable in 5th position, and the same can be said about the #6 BYD Dolphin and #7 BYD Yuan Plus, but in #8 we could see an interesting race in December, with the Tesla Model 3 hoping to have a strong end-of-quarter peak and take the position from current bearer BYD Tang.

But Tesla’s sedan will also have to watch its back, because if the US model underperforms next month, GAC’s Aion Y and Aion S will have a shot at surpassing the midsizer and reaching the #9 spot.

Speaking of the GAC Aion S, the first position changes came in the 11th and 12th positions, with the GAC Aion S and Hozon Neta V jumping two positions at the cost of the two Cherys (Cheries?) that are on the table, the QQ Ice Cream and eQ1.

In the second half of the table, three models profited from the Li Xiang One’s retirement (after a short career of only three years). The GAC Aion S was up to #13, Hozon’s Neta V climbed to #14, and the Changan Benni EV climbed one position to #15.

In the last positions of the top 20, we now have the Zeekr 001 in #19 (which kicked the XPeng P7 off the table). The full size liftback is looking to climb another position in the last stage of the race and end the year in #18.

Just outside the top 20, we have the little Leap Motor T03 looking to return to the table in December.

Top Brands for EV Sales in China — January–November 2022

Looking at the auto brand ranking in electric car sales, BYD (30.6%, up from 29.9% share) remains the dominant force in the plugin market. Behind the leader, we have shrinking SGMW (8.3%, losing 0.3% share). It is suffering from the fact that it’s currently a one-trick pony (the Wuling Mini EV) in an increasingly mature market where you need a full lineup of models selling in high volumes to remain successful.

Tesla’s share recovered (7.6%, up from 7.3% share). Tesla has a shot at stealing SGMW’s runner-up spot in December, it won’t be easy, but you never know.

GAC (4.6%) remained in 4th, with the Guangzhou brand profiting from its dynamic duo (Aion S & Y) to keep this position until year end. On the other hand, #5 Chery (4.1%, down 0.3%) continues to lose share, and having lost the #4 position in October, it could lose the #5 spot in December to a rising Changan (3.8%).

This was a great month for Changan, because it managed to surpass Dongfeng, Geely, and Volkswagen in just one month.

Geely (3.5%, down from 3.7%) and Volkswagen (3.3%, down 0.1%) continue to slide far from the top spots, becoming increasingly more difficult to keep the status quo in the overall automotive market.

As a matter of fact, this November, something historic happened in the Chinese market. Volkswagen, for decades the leading brand in China, was surpassed by BYD!

Yep, with 4 models in the overall top 8, BYD was the best selling auto brand in November across the whole auto market. But that wasn’t the only sign that the times are changing. Tesla was the 6th best selling brand, and last month, there were 8(!) plugins in the overall auto market top 10!

Top OEMs for EV Sales in China — January–November 2022

Looking at OEMs/automotive groups/alliances in the electric car space, BYD (30.7%) is the dominant force, while SAIC (10.8%, down from 11.1%) so far remains in the runner-up spot despite sliding shares for both SGMW and mother SAIC. They need to find another star player besides the Wuling Mini EV. Maybe the recently introduced MG 4/Mulan?

Tesla (7.6%) is firmly holding the last place on the podium and should stay there through the end of the year.

Off the electric car sales podium, #4 Geely–Volvo (5.5%) has lost some ground over #5 GAC (4.9%, up 0.1%), so Geely will need to keep an eye on the rear view mirror, if it wants to avoid surprises in December.

Outside the top 5, both #6 Chery (4.2%, down from 4.4%) and #8 Volkswagen Group (3.8%, down from 3.9%) again had slow months in November, with the German conglomerate losing the #7 position to Dongfeng (3.8%). It now has #9 Changan just 500 units behind it.


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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 467 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes