Friday, May 22, 2020

China April 2020

EV Sales: China February 2020
BYD Qin Pro EV

BYD Qin Best Seller in April

Plugin sales continue to recover in China, being down 29% YoY in April, the smallest drop this year, to close to over 61,000 units.

It is expected that this recovery will develop in the coming months, with the second half of the year probably seeing positive months, and maybe (fingers crossed!) by the end of 2020, we could see this market go back in black.

For now, the overall market is recovering faster, having dropped just 3% last month, and as a consequence, April's PEV share was just 4% (2.9% BEV), keeping the 2020 share at 4.2% (3.3% BEV), a step below from the 5.5% of 2019, hopefully the second half of the year will bring the possibility to beat last year's score.

For once, PHEVs resisted better than BEVs, leading to a 28% vs 72% breakdown between both powertrain technologies in April, and dragging pure electrics down 2% in its 2020 share, now at 77%.

Looking at April Best Sellers, it's Startup Month Edition, with two models from local startups (NIO ES6 and Li Xiang One) showing up, while the young adult Tesla also contributes to the picture, with the Model 3, and the NIO-dusted Aion S, from GAC, makes an appearance, in 3rd.

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

#1 – BYD Qin Pro EV

The maker’s reply to the GAC Aion S and BAIC EU-Series has won its first Best Seller trophy last month, thanks to 5,096 units, it seems BYD is betting on its electric sedan to ramp up and stay among the podium Best Sellers, if production capacity is not a problem, demand could end up being an issue, after all, the GAC Aion S is cheaper AND has better specs (59 kWh battery and 510 NEDC electric range for the Aion, 53kWh and 421 kms for the Qin).

#2 – Tesla Model 3

The poster child for electric mobility hit 4,312 units (including imports), being relegated to the runner-up spot for the first time this year, but fear not, this has more to do with temporary price policies (buyers knew that Tesla would lower in a few days the price of its SR+ version) than demand, or production issues, Tesla made some 10,000 units during April, so with the price effectively dropping below 300,000 RMB in May, expect a smashing month next month, with around 16,000 units being delivered (6,000 from April + 10,000 made in May), with the sports sedan returning to the leadership.

#3 – GAC Aion S

GAC’s sleek sedan retuned to the podium, having registered 3,586 units, a new year best, and while the Aion S is still far from the 8,460 units of last December, the ramp up continues and should reach cruise speed some time in the summer. One of the most competitive domestic EV’s on the market, the Aion S is sure to continue a regular in this Top 5, being a strong candidate to the medals positions.

#4 – NIO ES6

Another Top 5 presence for NIO, with the Midsize SUV scoring a record performance, thanks to 2,907 deliveries. Facing an uphill battle, after all, marrying “Premium” and “Chinese” in one EV-only brand is no easy task, the fact is that NIO products and concept are intriguing and add something new to the current EV landscape, not only they have battery swap stations, but they also increase regularly their models battery capacity, from the initial 74 kWh, back in 2018, to 80 kWh in 2019, and now in 2020, they have launched a 100 kWh option. Even better, the brand allows existing owners to upgrade their current batteries to the 100 kWh pack, for little over $5,000! The ES6 is the current best seller, but in a few months, the Model Y-like (and 100kWh battery-equipped) EC6 crossover will land, possibly stealing the thunder from its larger, taller, sibling ES6.

#5 – Li Xiang One EREV

A startup that only started to deliver units last December, Li Xiang is fast becoming a relevant player in the market, winning its first Top 5 presence in April, thanks to a record 2,622 units, an amazing performance, especially when we consider that this is a 5-meter, 7-seater, full-size SUV. Using an original strategy when it comes to powertrain, being one of the few Extended Range Electric Vehicles on the market, it adds to the 41 kWh battery with fast-charging capabilities, a 1.2 liter gasoline engine that works as a range enxtender. With such a fast production ramp up, there shouldn't be any issues on that side, the question should be how much demand there will be for such unique proposition.

Chinese EV maker Lixiang says it has delivered more than 4,500 ...
Li Xiang ONE

Looking at the 2020 ranking, there were some significant changes, with the GAC Aion S climbing one position to 3rd, while the BMW 530Le followed it, up to #4.

The local EV Startups are shining, with the NIO ES6 jumping 3 spots, to #6, while the Li Xiang One did even better, shooting 4 positions, to #7, with the Weltmeister EX5 (1,388 units, new year best) in #14, the XPeng G3 joining the table, in #17 and the Hozon Neta N01 in #21, just 204 units behind the #20 position, we could even have here 5 EV Startup models soon!

In other news, in the City Ev category, the tiny Baojun E-Series went up to #8, thanks to a year best 2,042 units, the Chery eQ (2,299 units, year best) was up to #11, while the Great Wall Ora R1 also jumped positions, now at #12, thanks to 1,760 units, which was, you guessed it, a new year best.

The BYD Tang PHEV climbed two positions, to #18, thanks to 1,122 units, a new year best (Do you see a trend here?)

Outside the table, Volkswagen started flexing its muscles, with 5(!) models posting four-digit performances (Tiguan PHEV - 1,035 units; Tayron PHEV - 1,062; Magotan PHEV - 1,377; e-Golf - 2,068; e-Bora - 1,364), allowing the veteran e-Golf hatchback to jump to #22, just 324 units away from the table, so expect it to join the table soon. Add the #15 Passat PHEV (1,137 units), and we have 6 VW's in the four-digits in April...How do you say "The Empire Strikes Back" in Chinese? But more on that below...

Looking at the manufacturers ranking, BYD (18%, up 1%) is in the leadership, with Tesla (12%, down 2%) keeping the runner up spot, while SAIC (10%, down 2%) is 3rd, with the #4 GAC (7%, down 1%) already watching the #5 Volkswagen ( 7%, up 2%) presence behind it. 

In the race for the global EV market supremacy, with Tesla owning North America's EV market and the VW Group (VAG) already beating Tesla in Europe, their domestic markets are in the bag of each, but China is neutral ground for both, and on top of that, it is also the most competitive EV market in the World, with an army of local competitors, and with the Model 3 now being made in China, Tesla took an early lead this year, so despite April's impressive performance, the German Conglomerate currently only has 8% share in the Chinese plugin market, trailing 4% behind Tesla.

But what it lacks in appealing models (insert oldtimer jokes), VAG compensates in its (massive) scale in China, allowing it to offer a plethora of models, including plugins, to local buyers, just to have an idea, Volkswagen offers 3 (three) different plugin hybrid Passats (Made-in-China Passat PHEV, Magotan GTE, Made-in-Germany Passat GTE), so to reduce the distance for Tesla in 2020, it is essential that VAG can pull off a Space Cowboys stunt in China.

With the Tesla Model 3 the most likely winner of this year Best Seller title in China, but without other models that can follow the sports sedan lead, Tesla is now something of a one trick pony in the Middle Kingdom, hence the reason why BYD's full lineup allows it to be 6% ahead of Tesla, and Volkswagen expects to replicate the same strategy to come closer to the American brand.

But the real fun will be in 2021, with the first member of the ID family (ID.4) expected to be made in China by late this year and the Tesla Model Y doing the same in early 2021, while the MiC ID.3 is set to start sometime in 2021, the race will be on between those two, although the local makers probably won't be sitting down too, and at least in their own market, they will be looking to get in the way of the two EV titans.       


  1. Nice to see Tesla selling 4.312 Model 3 which is at least 30% higher on YoY basis.
    Yes the disruption in subsidies caused the issue. Pretty soon, all subsidies will be phased out and I hope all PEV makers adjust to it without disruption.
    The overall market increased only by including commercial vehicles which are ordered by governments because of high command directive, if we exclude them, then the private vehicle sales are lesser.
    MB has no presence. So sad.

    Nothing is certain since another strain of virus has hit Jilin and 100 million people are in lockdown in northeast.

    Is ID.3 going to launch in China, if so when.

    1. The ID.3 is confirmed for China, after the launch of the ID.4, said to land in late 2020.

      So i expect the ID.3 to start in China sometime in 2021. Being a C-segment hatchback, it's not what local tastes like most, at that size it's more sedans, that is why they want to launch the ID.4 first.

  2. What does "NIO-dusted" mean?...

    1. NIO input, namely technology.

      GAC and JAC have a JV, that will make the Hycan EV.

  3. I wonder whether the good performance of so many models is affected by the (small) subsidy step-down, which takes effect in late June AIUI?... It's just a few hundred dollars -- but I guess it might be enough to pull forward some purchases?...

  4. AnonymousMay 23, 2020

    The new BYD Han will destroy Tesla. It's the best sexy looking EV sedan in the world.

    1. Yeah, sure... Just like all these other "Tesla killers" pronounced over the years :-P

  5. Fully agree, Jose! Very interesting market to watch. The top EV manufacturer will be the one with the most diversified line up, same as in the overall car market.

    For the Chinese upstarts we will get a further view on their competitiveness soon with the BYD Hand and Xpeng P7 launching, among others. In my eyes very good products, very competitively priced.

    1. I wouldn't consider BYD an "upstart"...

      For the actual startups -- including Xpeng -- the question is whether decent products are enough to make them viable as a business. It's a very tough market for new entrants...

  6. 6 months after Job 1 at GF Berlin we shall see about VW ownership of European BEV market LOL

    1. Well, with more diversified and cheaper models, I would assume VW should be able to take the crown in total sales, if the MEB-based vehicles turn out to be any good...

      Though it remains to be seen whether any individual model can beat the Model 3 or Model Y -- I think that might be hard nut to crack.

  7. Jose,

    I had expected that the BYD e1 to be very popular in China in 2020. But that seems not to be the case at all. It hasn't even entered the top 20 (yet).

    It's price is probably not low enough to be more compelling and more popular than the BYD e2.

    What do you think about that?


    1. I think the e1 is not popular among buyers, and because it is not a profitable model to be sold in small amounts, because of its low price, BYD prefers to focus in larger, and more expensive models.

  8. Jose,

    The BYD e1 is not popular among buyers.

    The BYD e2 is becoming popular among buyers.

    The BYD e3 is also not popular among buyers (yet). But it will perhaps start to become popular in 2021?


    1. With the e2 and e3 being basically the same car, the only difference being the e2 a hatchback and the 3e a sedan, this last one should have had more demand, maybe the reason for the slow demand is the competition that it has from the Qin and Qin Pro, while the e2 has no clear in house competition.

      Maybe things get better for it, as the year advances.

  9. Jose,

    Which EV model will be the first to reach the milestone of 100,000(+) sales in China in one year?

    Will the Tesla Model 3 reach that milestone in 2020?

    Or will that be an EV model from a Chinese brand?


    1. If the Tesla Model 3 doesn't reach the 100k mark this year, no one will, because only the Californian has both enough demand and large scale production abilities to get there.

    2. The BAIC EU-series already reached that milestone last year... It often sold more in one month than this entire year thus far.

    3. Jose,

      It would be great if more EV models would be more affordable and more compelling so that they become more popular, the result will be that they then will capture more marketshare from ICE car models and their annual sales numbers would increase substantially (more than 100,000).

      Regarding the BAIC EU-series; It's very good that it had reached that milestone in 2019. We just want to see more EV models to reach that milestone (every year).


    4. Keep in mind that as more different EV models become available, it will be harder for specific models to reach outstanding numbers...

      Though of course this should be outweighed by more and more people buying EVs -- so eventually we should see many models above 100,000 annual sales, just as many combustion models exceed such numbers today...