Global plugin vehicle registrations were up 50% in May 2023 compared to May 2022, rising to 1,057,00 units. In the end, plugins represented 16% share of the overall auto market (11% BEV share alone). This means that the global automotive market is firm in the Electric Disruption Zone.
Year to date, plugin electric vehicle market share was up to 14% (10% BEV).
Full electric vehicles (BEVs) represented 70% of plugin registrations in March, keeping the year-to-date tally also at 70% share.
20 Best Selling EV Models in the World in May
Looking at May best sellers, there were no surprises on the podium. The Tesla Model Y was high above everyone else, while behind it, the BYD Qin Plus managed to again beat the Tesla Model 3, profiting from Tesla’s usual off-peak slower months.
The BYD Song ended in 4th, ahead of its sibling BYD Yuan Plus (aka Atto 3 in some export markets). Will the recent refresh and price cut help kickstart Song sales again, or will the recently introduced BYD Frigate 07 (#18, with 10,005 registrations) start to cannibalize its sales?
Regarding record performances, despite an overall solid performance in April, there were just a couple of them to mention. One was the #15 Li Xiang L7 scoring 11,119 registrations. It looks like it is now close to surpassing the BYD Tang as the best selling full size SUV. The other record performance belonged to the BYD Destroyer 05, #19, with 9,848 registrations.
But the big event of the month was the official landing of the much awaited BYD Seagull, which had its first full month on the market. The Seagull got 14,300 registrations, a promising start for BYD’s new baby. With many analysts expecting it to become one of the best selling models in China in the near future, that alone would mean 35,000–40,000 units per month. But China is already an EV-friendly market, with plenty of models to choose from, whereas I believe the Seagull could be a disruptive force in overseas markets — should BYD export it, of course.
There are plenty of price-sensitive markets where small cars are popular and that currently do not have good alternatives to ICE models. BYD’s city car would be a perfect fit. As such, it could even become the Shenzhen company’s best selling model overall!
Outside the top 20, there is plenty to talk about. Going from the biggest to the smallest, despite the Li Xiang L7’s success, the other
yachts models from the startup are hanging on with notable volumes, as proven by the 6,852 registrations of the Escalade-like L9 and the 7,604 registrations of the slightly less offensive L8 SUV.
In the midsize category, the highlight is the second record performance in a row for the Leap Motor C11 SUV. Thanks to its new EREV version, it reached 7,121 registrations, providing the struggling startup some much needed volume. The Jeep Wrangler PHEV reached 7,672 registrations in May, its best score in two years! (Very good, Wrangler — now say “thank you” to Mr. Biden and the IRA….)
As for the compact category, we salute the return of Great Wall’s Ora Good Cat to decent performances. It scored 8,268 registrations this month, its best score in 11 months, thanks to rising volumes in export markets and a step up in deliveries in its home China, allowing it to sell at the same pace as the VW ID.3 (8,165 units) and MG4 (8,297 units). Also, the Audi Q4 e-tron was #21, just 11 units behind the #20 Hyundai Ioniq 5. Will we see it return to the top 20 soon?
In the city car category, the highlight is the 8,491 registrations of the cutesy Changan Lumin.
Top 20 EV Models YTD
In the year-to-date (YTD) table, there was nothing new on the podium, with the Tesla Model Y ruling supreme above the BYD Song. The US crossover’s success is such that is it is currently the best selling passenger car in the world, all powertrains counted!
In the remaining podium positions, the #3 Tesla Model 3 recovered some ground (400 units) over the #2 BYD Song, so Tesla’s midsizer could profit from June’s peak performance to try to displace the Chinese SUV from the runner-up spot.
The first position change happened with the Denza D9 climbing into 13th, switching places with the Volvo XC40. The large MPV benefitted from a strong performance in May and is now looking to reach the rear of the #12 BYD Tang in the future.
Still concerning BYD Group, the Frigate 07 was also up, rising one position to #19, and should jump a few more positions in the future, so a 15th spot could be in the cards soon.
The last position on the table is also interesting. The cutesy Geely Panda Mini is now in #20, while just below it, we now have the #21 Li Auto L8 (just 800 units behind it), with the 7-seat plugin hybrid SUV possibly surpassing the little Geely model in June, as this last model sales seem to be slowing down.
Top Selling Brands
In May, BYD had a 200,000+ unit performance, which was enough to beat Tesla by a long shot. Still, it was an off-peak month for the US make, so that was to be expected. The pattern between these two seems to continue. For the rest of the year, Tesla will be winning the end-of-quarter months when it benefits from its usual delivery peak, while BYD will win the other stages of the race.
Below the top two galactics, the big surprise is GAC staying in 3rd, thanks to a record 45,016 registrations. That new record is thanks to another memorable performance from its dynamic duo, the Aion Y and Aion S. While the upcoming Aion SSR (don’t call me a Tesla Roadster killer) is not going to move the needle, GAC’s other upcoming model (first deliveries expected in July), the ultra-aerodynamic Aion Hyper GT sports sedan, could ruffle some feathers in the full size segment. Times are looking good for GAC’s Aion brand….
#8 Li Auto also had a record month, with over 28,000 registrations, thanks to strong results across the lineup. With the startup brand still supply constrained, expect the high-end make to continue beating records regularly in the near future. But the real fun will start when the L6 and L5 midsized models land sometime next year.
The second half of the table saw Leap Motor return to the table, in #20, thanks to the recent success of the new EREV versions, namely the C11 midsize SUV.
But the biggest surprise of the month, when it comes to the brand ranking, was the record performance of … Toyota!
Yep, the Japanese automaker scored a record 14,219 registrations, mostly thanks to the ramp-up of its Chinese operations (bZ4X and bZ3), aided by steady results from the RAV4 PHEV and the introduction of the new Prius PHEV. Could it be that the reports of Toyota’s death have been greatly exaggerated?
In the Stellantis stable, Jeep continues profiting from strong sales of the Wrangler PHEV (thanks in no small part to IRA incentives) and the production ramp-up of the Grand Cherokee PHEV, thus posting another good score of 13,465 registrations. That means it is regularly beating its US counterparts Ford and Chevrolet! And with the Jeep Avenger EV having just landed in Europe, expect its sales across the pond to recover in the coming months. The US make has everything to collect more record performances in the coming months.
In the YTD table, there wasn’t much to report regarding the podium. BYD is ahead of Tesla, with the two makes together responsible for more than one third of the global plugin vehicle market.
Far below these two, which are really in a league of their own, BMW is (still) comfortable in the 3rd spot, but below it, the hot hot hot GAC Aion surpassed Volkswagen in May. Will GAC be able to displace #3 BMW from the podium sometime in the future?
Li Auto’s rise also continued, climbing to 9th, and could climb higher in June considering that #8 Volvo is some 5,000 units ahead. The startup brand is without a doubt the hottest startup brand in 2023.
In the second half of the table, one highlight was Kia, which climbed one position to #14. Additionally, Toyota profited from the record score to rise to the 17th position, proving that EVs are a race of persistence and not a sprint. #LegacyOEMsfightingfortheirlives
Finally, Hozon joined the table, in #20, making it the 8th Chinese brand in the table.
Top Selling OEMs for EV Sales
Looking at registrations by OEM, leader BYD gained share, going from 21.6% to its current 21.9%, while Tesla was down, as expected, to 14.8% share (it had 15.4% a month ago).
Compared to what was happening a year ago, both BYD (+6% share) and Tesla (+2%) were the big winners. Although, in the case of the latter, that is entirely on the shoulders of the Model Y, while the Shenzhen profited from a never ending wave of new models.
3rd place is in the hands of Volkswagen Group, keeping good distance from #4 Geely–Volvo. But the “Chinese Volkswagen Group” was one of the winners YoY, increasing its share by 0.5% compared to the same period last year, when it was 6th overall.
As for #5 SAIC, the recent success of the Wuling Bingo allowed it to stop the sales bleed, keeping its share at 5.6%.
Below SAIC, Stellantis (4.8%) is firmly in the 6th spot, a comfortable distance ahead of #7 BMW Group (4.3%).
Looking just at BEVs, Tesla remained in the lead with 21.2%, down from 22.1% in April. The US make has a comfortable lead over BYD (15.4%, up from 15.1%), making it unlikely the Chinese automaker will be able to remove Tesla from the BEV throne this year.
The last place on the podium saw a position change, with SAIC surpassing Volkswagen Group, if only by 80 units, allowing it to recover the bronze medal position. Expect an entertaining race between these two in the remainder of the year.
In 5th we have Geely–Volvo, with 6%, up from 5.9%. The Chinese OEM would like to reach #4 Volkswagen Group but still has a ways to climb. Geely should primarily look in the rear-view mirror and watch out for rising #6 GAC (5.5%, up from 5.2%), as this last one could reach the Chinese conglomerate soon. (July?)
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