Models: Tesla and the Chinese take the spotlight
Models: Tesla and the Chinese take the spotlight
Tesla Model 3 wins in February
|Dongfeng Rich-6 EV: Available in Colombia|
Welcome to the 7th Annual Top 10 EV Countries list — my own very personal version of March Madness! Seriously, this is always my busiest month of the year and to make things even more chill I do this thing too. It *is* literal madness to keep doing it. Link to the 2019 list (from there you can get to older ones).
The lion’s share of credit for source data goes as usual, to Jose Pontes and his EV Sales Blog. This year, though, I used his input into the EU-sanctioned eafo.eu more than the original Sales Blog, since it was more detailed and up-to-date. If you want to drown in EV numbers and analyses from around the globe, do subscribe to Jose’s new commercial endeavor EV Volumes (and no, I’m not getting a cut).
I obtained more than the usual share of info simply from my own online sleuthing. Including complete tables for Israel in 2019-2020 which I calculated and handed over to Jose! (Israel is nowhere near the Top 10, but I just wanted to brag).
Some numbers and percentages in Europe may look different from what you see elsewhere, because I’ve added light-commercial vehicle sales to numerator and denominator, to make the comparison with other regions equitable.
Ok, if you dare read, go over the fold… I won’t give the punch line away, and there’s more than one surprise this year!
Back in March-April when Covid hit the West hard, conventional punditry piped up its sorry head, saying EVs (and green policies in general) are a goner for 2020, probably also into 2021.
Then… instead of grinding to a halt, EV sales in most leading markets roared out of the first lockdown with such ferocity, that it made up all the deficit and then some, stopping the dials on 3.1 million EVs sold (70% of them “pure” BEVs). Since the general auto market remained slumped, global EV market share increased nicely from 2.8% in 2019 to 4% in 2020.
Most of this was driven by Europe, where strict cash penalties levied directly on automakers, for each ICE (internal-combustion engine) sold, came into effect January 2020 — and simply worked! The continent’s EV market share tripled, touching the “disruption zone” of 10%. Europe has an unprecedented 8 out of our Top 10 spots. But China, by far the world’s largest EV builder and buyer, also managed to recover decently.
Who didn’t really recover, because its slump is multiple-year rather than only Covid-related? Over here in the US. But we’ll get to that sad story at some point. Here goes the list:
Europe’s affinity to EVs has steep north-south and east-west gradients. Basically EVs are happening in Northwest Europe, and far far less elsewhere. This has lots to do with spare cash; as a new technology EVs have come in pricier than average, and even more so they’ve had that perception. The only exception to this geographical intra-Europe rule was Ukraine, entering the Top 10 in 2016-2018 on the power of grassroots-driven lively market of second-hand EV imports, which seems to have stalled in 2019-2020.
Now Portugal, one of Western Europe’s poorest countries, narrowly beat a tight second-10 field to become the first Southern European country in the Top 10.
Claim to fame: part and parcel of the regulations-driven surge, Portugal went from 4.9% to 10.7% EV share, with ~20k sold. Sales leadership was fairly narrowly decided between the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe, with previous near-perennial local favorite Nissan Leaf pushed to 3rd.
Also, Portugal is where Jose calls home.
The UK became one of 4 European nations to cross 100k EV sales in 2020 (in 2019 only Germany managed the feat — barely), with 180k deliveries and market share zooming from 2.9% to 9.3%.
Time will tell how Brexit will affect things like the availability of England-assembled Nissan Leafs on the Continent, and vice versa.
Claim to fame: Korean EV makers (basically, the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate) continued their advance, nearing 200k made in 2020, while Korean battery makers cemented their global dominance with twin giants LG Chem and Samsung launching factories in Hungary, and more being built elsewhere.
Domestic sales and market share also advanced, from 1.9% to 2.8% on 52k sold, but it’s still nowhere near European or even Chinese levels.
Note the jump in score from the 8th-place country — the countries from here on delivered far more impressive performance.
Claim to fame: Peugeot-Citroen jumps into the fray — but Zoe takes the cake. Domestic market not shabby either.
France’s auto industry is probably the largest Western auto industry that goes completely under the radar in the US. Only Old World savants here have even heard of these brands, which crank out millions and millions of cars per year.
Well, Americans who follow EVs did hear of Renault, which (sort-of married to Nissan) has been among global EV leaders. But P-C, just as big an automaker, was a complete laggard.
Fortunately, unlike some CEOs and company boards…. P-C leadership saw the regulatory writing on the wall, prepared an entire suite of decently compliant EVs, and roared into action in 2020, selling nearly 70k EVs up from nary a couple thousand in 2019. Together with Renault’s ~125k, spearheaded by the Zoe crossing 100k on its own, France together with Germany was the country that helped meet all this sudden surge in European demand for EVs.
Local demand also jumped, with nearly 200k EVs sold and market share jumping from 2.6% to 9.5%. Electric bus deliveries were a bit down in 2020 though, with an estimated E-bus share of only ~1%.
Claim to fame: sparse schmarse, just look at them numbers!
Sure, 2x more people live within Seattle city limits than in all of Iceland’s huge expanses. But this still doesn’t take away from a 47% EV market share, more than double 2019’s, and also a sharp shift in composition from a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) dominated island to an evenly balanced 2020 mix (yes, there are points for that too). And these EVs are powered mostly by renewable energy.
Claim to fame: continuing to lead Europe in E-bus production and deployment share.
Domestic EV sales increased “only” from 13% to 22% and almost touched 100k, so pretty darn good in absolute terms. But the Netherlands (like some other Euro countries, e.g., Denmark) still suffers from some semi-permanent incentives instability so 2021 started a bit slow.
I finally got hold of reported total bus fleets and bus replacement rates in Europe. Netherlands has ~10k buses, meaning that the 400-plus (mostly locally built) E-buses deployed there in each of 2019 and 2020 were possibly the majority of new buses in the country in those years. Finally someone is following China’s lead on this!
Claim to fame: the fame is all Germany’s this time.
Boy, I love dishing out 4 medals instead of a puny 3! Also, note again a sizable jump in point count from 5th place.
Sweden is no stranger to these heights; in 2020 it did very well, going from 10% to nearly 30% EV market share, getting close to 100k just like Netherlands (still PHEV-dominated though). Volvo Bus also started delivering a couple hundred BEV buses, headlined by a huge order from Gothenburg.
But that’s nothing compared to what Germany — who, to my recollection, wins its first-ever Top EV Country medal — did last year…
Coming out of the first Covid lockdown, most Western European countries passed some version of a “mini green new deal” in their stimulus packages . But as I wrote in August, Germany was perhaps the only one to insist on giving subsidies *only* to EVs and not to ICE sales (more precisely, it was the social-democrat coalition partners who insisted).
This paid back in spades, with EV share flying from <3% in 2019 to ~13% in 2020. That’s ~400k new EVs on German roads in 2020 — passing the US in number of EVs sold last year! Germany may have also narrowly beat perennial continental light-commercial (mostly delivery vans) segment champ France, with nearly 10k new ones.
German automakers were at least as ready as the French, responsible for a weighted total of >700k EVs globally in 2020, supplying over one-third of global demand outside of China. Even annoying Mercedes Bus stopped dragging its feet and delivered what seems like a couple hundred E-buses; somewhere around 5% of Germany’s new buses last year were electric.
Ok, if you made it thus far, then….. drumrollllll.
Claim to fame: maybe sometimes it’s good to chill back for a year at #2.
China of course started 2020 worse than anyone. The EV market was doubly challenged in early 2020, because the Chinese government with its mixed signals keeps chipping away at EV subsidies. But the swift (and often brutal) pandemic response paid back, the country being open and Covid-free (in lame-ass Western terms, at least) from March-April onwards. The government also delayed the EV incentive-sunset process by 2 years to ease the pressure.
EV sales managed to finish ahead, with ~1.3M sold and market share increasing from 5.5% to 6.3%. Jan-Feb 2021 came in at high single-digits, so Jose is optimistic (barring more craziness) that China will join Europe in the DDD (Double-Digit Disruption) club this year.
Tesla’s now-made-in-China Model 3 won the local crown with 140k sales, but the real surprise was the teeny and dirt-cheap WHGMiEV (see the linked story to decipher the acronym), launched only mid-year and reaching 120k, the second Chinese model to score 6 digits in a year. And two months into 2021 it has already scored another 57k sales! Given it sells for only $4-5.5k, they can sell it all over the less-wealthy world (more precisely, in urban areas with reliable grid) if they can ramp it up.
As to E-buses, the jewel in China’s EV crown: domestically “only” 61k were deployed in 2020. For reference, in Europe, whose overall bus fleet size seems 2-3x smaller than China’s, somewhere around 2-2.5k E-buses were deployed. So it’s roughly a ~10x factor in E-bus share in China’s favor.
Still, 61k is quite a slide from well over 100k in 2015-2018, and represents ~40% market share, not what one would expect considering the track record. Did the prior-year surge include some bad-quality buses that went bust? Or have subsidies been cut too quickly? I have no idea.
That said, China also dominates the global E-bus market, delivering and building assembly plants all over the place. In South America BYD seems the only E-bus act in town.
But wait…. with China behind us, Who’s On First then?
Claim to fame: FINALLY!!!
The relative stagnation (and lack of transparency on some key stuff) in China was just enough for Norway to finally pull off a Gold.
EV market share went from a stratospheric 45% to escape-velocity 63%, crossing 100k on a population of barely 5M. And E-bus action also accelerated, nearing 300 units which on a reported fleet of 16k means ~15-20% market share. If Norway also had an auto or EV-battery industry, no country could catch it in the charts.
Yup, yup, yup.
For the first time ever, the gran’ ol’ US of A is off the Top 10, falling short with 47 points. In fact, prior to 2020 the US never placed lower than #6, so this fall from grace is a BFD.
What went wrong? How can the home country of the world’s #1 EV maker, who grazed a half-million sales this year and whose #1 model sold >3x than its global runner-up? Oh… Well… Let’s see….
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! Wishing a truly stellar EV year in 2021. Personally we will likely make our first outright purchase of an EV this year, after serially leasing 4.5 Leafs.
Tesla Model Y ramps up
Plugins had another great month in China last month, with 104,000 units, a six-fold jump regarding the same month last year, although February 2020 had been heavily disrupted by the Covid pandemic, but if we were to compare with February 2019, last month would also mean a major jump in sales, as 2 years ago, we were celebrating 41,000 registrations in February...How times have changed, eh?
Last month plugin share reached 9% (7.5% BEV), pulling the 2021 share to 8.7% (7.3% BEV), and considering January and February are China's weakest months, we can now safely assume that the local plugin market will cross North of the two-digits mark this year, maybe even during the first half of the year!
Looking at February Best Sellers, we have 2 midsize models (the two Teslas), 2 City EVs (Wuling Mini EV and Ora's Black Cat), and one big sedan (BYD Han EV), with the highlight being the Tesla Model Y winning its first (of many) podium spots.
Here’s February Top 5 Best Selling models individual performance:
#1 – Wuling HongGuang Mini EV
A big name for such a small car, the Wuling EV scored 20,167 units last month, effectively ending a 7 months records streak, but it was still a great result, as this score was still more than the 2 other nameplates in podium had combined, meaning that the tiny four-seater is to continue growing during the next few months, possibly reaching some 350k-450k units score by the end of the year. The reason for this success? Well, it is one of the cheapest EVs on the market ($4,400!!!), and yet, it’s not all that bad, as the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint-venture model can seat 4 people (or 3 people and a bit of cargo, or 2 with a fair amount of cargo – 741 liters), in car that is a tad larger (2,917 mm / 114.8 in) than a Smart Fortwo EV, sure, range is not brilliant (smaller battery version has 9.2 kWh battery, top spec version has a 13.8 kWh battery), just like the motor (27hp), but it has only 665 kg curb weight to carry around and is highway capable, so in order to have the 4,200 USD price, without subsidies, one can’t expect miracles... At this price level, the Wuling EV is in position to be a disruptive force in urban mobility, not only against 4-wheeled private transportation, but also against 2 and 3-wheelers. This EV could be a game changer, and not only in China...
#2 – Tesla Model 3
The poster child for electric mobility hit 13,688 units last month, and while it’s not as high as one could expect, Tesla’s midsizer continues firmly above the 10,000 mark and should continue scoring 12k-15k performances in the near future. Unless, of course, its sibling Tesla Model Y starts to steal a significant number of sales from it...Interestingly, February was the probably the first time that the Model 3 has beaten the category Best Sellers in the overall market, as the Californian outsold the Audi A4 (9,000 units), BMW 3-Series (10,000), and Mercedes C-Class (11,000), so one might say that the Tesla sports sedan is getting closer to its goal.
#3 – Tesla Model Y
Tesla's new baby hit 4,630 units last month, and while it’s not (yet) a Model 3-beating score, it means that the production ramp-up is going smoothly and should hit its peak during the second quarter of the year. Tesla’s midsize crossover future cruise speed in China is a question mark, while traditionally SUVs/Crossovers haven't sold as much as their sedan counterparts, the truth is that the market is leaning towards higher riding bodies, so the Model Y could surf the wave and outsell its Model 3 by quite some margin. Currently, the Premium midsize SUV Best Sellers in the overall market are the Audi Q5 (12,500 units), BMW X3 (10,900) and the Mercedes GLC (8,900), so we could expect the Californian jump to 10k-up performances soon, and maybe cruise at some 15,000 units/month speed this year.
#4 – Great Wall ORA Black Cat (R1)
Great Wall managers decided to grant its EV-only sub-brand Ora a Cat Pack, transforming its tiny R1 Smart-lookalike into the Black Cat, launching later the R2 model (think Scion XB/Toyota Urban Cruiser kind of vehicle) as the White Cat, and to lead the Pack, Great Wall has just launched the Good Cat, a chunky (and funky) compact hatchback (VW Golf sized) that kinda looks like a Porsche 356 in the front, a Toyota from the side, and the back...Well, it’s its own thing. And in good time they did it, because they had all 3 Cats in last month Top 20... But enough of the other Cats, we are here to talk about the Black Cat, that delivered 4,561 units in February, allowing the Great Wall model to continue in the forefront of the resurgence of City EVs.
Looking at the remaining Best Sellers table in February, a mention to the record score of the small Changan Benni EV, with 3,274 units, its second record performance in a row, allowing this Toyota Yaris-like hatchback to jump to 6th last month, and raising the question if we aren't witnessing the rise of a new star in the competitive Chinese EV market...Discuss.
Another model jumping positions is SAIC's Roewe ei6 PHEV sedan, that showed up in #13 last month, thanks to 1,639 units, its best score since June 2019.
But the flavour of the month are the models from local startups, and this time we had 6 representatives in the table, with the highest placed being the #6 Li Xiang One (2,300 units), while NIO placed all its 3 models in the Top 20(!), XPeng had its popular P7 sedan in #17, with 1,409 units, and Hozon saw its small crossover Neta V reach #11, with 2,002 units.
Others also had reasons to celebrate, like Great Wall placing all of its 3 Cats in the Top 20, or BMW, that besides the usual 530Le, #16 last month, saw its new iX3 EV sneak in the table, in #20.
Below the Top 20, a reference to the ramp-up of the BYD D1 EV, a compact MPV (hurray for MPVs!) aimed at ride-hailing services, namely DiDi, that has reached 1,166 units last month, so we should see it in the table soon.
Looking at the 2021 ranking, if the Wuling Mini EV is the undisputed leader, while below it, the Climber of the Month was the Tesla Model Y, that jumped from outside the Top 20, into #9, and still in the Top 10, Ora's Black Cat climbed to 4th, at the expense of the GAC Aion S, the Li Xiang One was also up one spot, to 6th, and the Changan Benni EV jumped 3 spots, to #8.
The Black Cat and Benni EV rises underline the fact that City EVs are returning to the spotlight, with the Wuling EV being its finest example.
But it weren’t only with the City EVs shining, as Great Wall's intriguing looking Ora Good Cat joined the table, in #18, a surprising result, as compact hatchbacks aren't a popular segment in China, and something of a good news for Volkswagen's ID.3 (possible) career in China, apparently you can break into the local Top 20 with a compact hatch...
Local startup models are as present as ever, and just outside the Top 20, we have two more of these, with the XPeng G3 in #21 and the Weltmeister EX5 in #22...Thus making 8 local startup models in the Top 22 positions!
Looking at the makers ranking, the SGMW joint-venture (22%, down 1%) is in the leadership, while below it, there was an important position change, with Tesla (12%, up 3%) jumping ahead of BYD (11%, down 1%), with the Californian maker now assuming the runner-up spot.
Below the podium, SAIC (8%, down 1%) is 4th, followed by the #5 Great Wall (6%) and the rising #6 NIO (5%, up 1%), that has surpassed GAC (4%) last month.
Interestingly, in the race for Best Selling Foreign Brand not named Tesla, the #12 BMW has surpassed Volkswagen, now relegated to #13, with the German maker, which is the largest brand in the overall Chinese automotive market, being currently behind not only BMW, but also below startups like XPeng (#9), or Li Xiang (#11)...Those ID models are badly needed, aren't they, VW?