Thursday, February 27, 2020

China January 2020

 Resultado de imagem para Made in China Model 3

Tesla Model 3 shines in disrupted market

After the December sales peak, January signaled the expected hangover, but with some 49,000 passenger PEVs, the numbers were worse than expected, as sales fell 50% YoY. 

While it is true that January had fewer selling days, because the Chinese New Year this time happened in that month, and the Corona Vírus could have started to make itself felt in the second half of the month, the fact is that both events also hit the regular automotive market, and yet the overall market saw its registrations drop just 22%.

As a consequence of this, the PEV share started the year at 3.2% (2.3% BEV), a step below from the 5.5% of 2019, but we hope that after all the doom and gloom currently happening here, the second half of the year witnesses the return to growth in China.

Last month, the Chinese OEMs represented roughly 64% of all PEVs registered, a significant drop, especially considering that in 2019 they had around 85% of the market.

So, as it wasn’t enough for local OEMs the fact that plugin sales were dropping by half, they also saw their grip on the native market being lost, in favor of foreign brands, like Tesla and others… 

In January, plug-in hybrids better less worse (-28% YoY) than pure electric models (-56%), allowing them to recover some relevance in the market, as they represented 29% of sales, up 9% regarding 2019.

Proving that foreign models are weathering the storm better than local brands, for the first time we have three foreigners in the Top 5, and the Tesla Model 3 even managed to win the January Best Seller trophy, a first for a foreign model in China.

Here’s January Top 5 Best Selling models individual performance:

#1 – Tesla Model 3
The poster-child for electric mobility delivered 3,183 units, (including 578 imports), winning its first monthly Best Sellers title, a first for any foreign model here. And while it’s not (yet) the disruptive result that many expect from the Tesla sedan, let’s remember it was still the first full month of the Made-in-China Model 3, so the sporty silhouette of the Model 3 should become a common sighting in Chinese streets soon.

#2 – SAIC Roewe Ei5
This model was something of a shot in a dark for the Shanghai Auto, as station wagons aren’t common in China, but it has paid off, as the nameplate became the 2nd best selling plugin of SAIC’s stable last year, and now in 2020 the compact wagon came close to win its first monthly Best Seller award, losing only to the Tesla midsizer by 115 units. Still, with 3,068 units, it was its best performance since June or, as it now starting to be known, BSC (Before the Subsidies Change). Based on the GM platform Delta II (think Chevrolet Cruze, Opel Astra, or the Buick Velite 6 sibling), the Chinese wagon profits from a quality design and unique body, and SAIC is now said to be preparing its introduction in Europe later in the year, as an MG, where I am sure many wagon-lovers will buy it.

#3 – BMW 530Le
The rise and rise of BMW’s luxury sedan in China is impressive in more than one way, first the steady increase in demand, regardless of the surrounding depressing environment, and second, the full-size sedan is running in the top positions with much cheaper models, as the 2nd best selling full-size model (Li Xiang One) had a third of its sales. Winning its first podium position last month (and for the first time we have two foreigners in the Podium), with 3,000 units, the Bimmer sedan continues to thrive, even without access to subsidies (then again, let’s face it, subsidies for cars at this price level don’t really make that much of a difference, the owners just use the money for some nicer alloys or optional creature comforts…), so the undisputed leader in the Luxury category should continue selling around 3,000 units per month, which is well above its direct competitors, that are happy to reach 1,000 units in one month.

#4 – GAC Aion S
Things continue to go well for the Aion S, with the sleek sedan securing another Top 5 presence, thanks to 2,648 units. And before the GAC fans out there (“Everybody from Guangzhou, put your hands up, put your hands up…”), mention the Toyota iA5, I should remember y’all that if we count the badge-engineered Toyota sedan into the Aion S tally, it is after all, just an “S” with a Toyota badge, then GAC’s Model 3-inspired sedan would have been January’s Best Seller. 

#5 – VW Passat PHEV
First of all, a disclosure: this moniker includes two different plugin hybrid models, both named “Passat”. Confused? Then, let’s explain, the Made-in-China Passat, which is based, but not the same, of the larger US-made VW Passat, has a PHEV version that makes up for most of sales of the moniker. But Volkswagen also imports direcly from Germany to China the slightly smaller VW Passat GTE, that Europeans are used to see in their streets, adding a few hundreds of units to the tally. Now that we have this out of the way, the German moniker had 2,217 units, confirming its role of bread and butter model for the brand, at least until the MEB-based models don’t arrive to Chinese lands.

Resultado de imagem para lixiang automotive
Li Xiang One
Outside the Top 5, and even in the midst of the current dark scenery, there are a few Ray of Lights, like the good behavior of the local EV Startups, with 4 representatives in the Top 20, with the NIO ES6 jumping to #6, thanks to 1,493 units, the Li Xiang One full size SUV landing with a bang in #14 and 1,180 units, starting its career immediately as the full-size SUV leader, while the Weltmeister EX5 is #16, and the Neta N01 from Hozon surprisingly joins the Top 20, in #18.

Toyota(!) also joined the ranking, and not with one model, but two(!), although we should remember that the Toyota iA5 is a badge-engineered GAC Aion S, so…It should be counted as GAC, right? 

And by the way, if we were to add the IA5 to the Aion S tally, the GAC electric model would have been January’s Best Seller, with 3,884 units…

Anyway, the Toyota Corolla PHEV made it to the Top 20, in #19, being the fifth plugin hybrid in the ranking. 

Looking at the manufacturers ranking, the current disruption is being felt, with SAIC and BYD sharing the leadership, both with 14% share (BYD is ahead by 120 units), all while Tesla and BMW (both with 7%) are chasing the new #3 GAC, with 9% share. 


  1. Congrats Tesla Model 3 for taking #1 spot. 3183 units sold is really high for the 1st month. Sadly the coronavirus has dented the demand in the later part of the month. Feb is even worse. Hope at least in Mar, there is a recovery.

    1. I doubt demand is an issue at this point... The virus has delayed production by a few weeks though.

  2. FYI--My malware software is blocking a Trojan on this page.

  3. I'm not too shocked about the drop: the beginning of the year has always been weak in China. 2019 was actually an anomaly -- presumably because of the impeding incentive step-down, along with filling huge backlogs for the new/refreshed BYD models...

    Hopefully we will see a steady rise throughout the year, like it has usually been in the past.