27% BEV Share In China!

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Plugin vehicles are all the rage in the Chinese auto market. Plugins scored more than 872,000 sales last month, up 39% year over year (YoY), which is this market’s fourth record month in a row. And expect the last month of the year to continue this record streak. November sales pulled the year-to-date (YTD) tally to over 7.1 million units.

Share-wise, with November showing another record performance, plugin vehicles hit 42% market share! Full electrics (BEVs) alone accounted for 27% of the country’s auto sales. This pulled the 2023 share to 37% (25% BEVs), and considering the current growth rate, we can assume that China’s plugin vehicle market share could end at 38% by the end of 2023.

Another measure of the importance of this market is the fact that China alone represented the majority of global plugin registrations in November!

The 20 Best Selling Electric Vehicles in China — November 2023

Here’s more info and commentary on November’s top selling electric models, with only the Tesla Model Y running at the same pace as the BYD pack.

#1 — BYD Song (BEV+PHEV)

BYD’s midsize SUV was again top dog in the overall Chinese automotive market, with BYD’s current star player scoring 61,694 registrations, in no small part thanks to the 11,079 units of the BEV version, which is currently on a records streak. With this year’s title already in the bag, will the Song win the best selling model title again in 2024? Too early to know. The little BYD Seagull is ramping up, and it has the potential to disrupt the market. But BYD’s internal competition should also erode the Song’s career next year, in the form of the upcoming Sea Lion and Song L. So, while the midsize SUV is sure to revalidate last year’s title in 2023, next year’s race will be much harder.

#2 — Tesla Model Y

Tesla’s star model is back in a top spot after being down in 7th in October. In November, it got 49,877 registrations, which is still down 5% YoY. At a time when there is a price war in the Chinese market and innovations are happening at neck-breaking speed, Tesla’s crossover is in need of a refresh like the one that benefitted the Model 3 — which, by the way, was up 53% YoY in the same period, to 15,627 units. And Tesla doesn’t really have a choice. With so many competitive midsize crossovers coming from local OEMs, namely BYD’s Song L and Sea Lion, the US automaker can either respond with a serious refresh of the Model Y or else this month’s sales drop will become the norm. 

#3 — BYD Seagull

With 44,603 registrations, BYD’s new star player continued to ramp up deliveries. The question now is: How high will it go? In its domestic market of China, could it win a best seller title by the end of 2024? Overseas, the little EV could be a truly disruptive force: Latin America and Africa are waiting for a good, cheap electric car that can push EVs into the mainstream, and the Seagull could be it. This could be the model that places BYD among the best sellers in places like India and Europe — where good, small, value-for-money BEVs are scarce. Sitting somewhere between the A and B segments, at 3.78 meters, and using a purposeful angular design, it profits from the brand’s leading Blade batteries, in 30 kWh and 39 kWh sizes. It starts at 74,000 CNY (+\-$10,500 USD). The only model rivaling it is the slightly larger (3.95 meters) Wuling Bingo, which starts at 60,000 CNY (+\-$8,200 USD), but at that price, it comes with a battery of just 17 kWh capacity and no DC charging. For a similar-spec Bingo, equipped with a 32 kWh battery & DC charging, the starting price is 74,000 CNY, the same price as the Seagull. So, spec-wise, the two seem equally competitive, but the Seagull benefits from the current strength of the BYD brand, something that the Wuling EV lacks. In overseas markets, BYD also profits from the fact that neither SAIC or GM have export plans for their small EV.

#4 — BYD Qin Plus (BEV+PHEV) 

BYD Qin Plus sales were stable at a 40,000-ish cruising speed. The midsizer reached 40,852 registrations in November, with the BEV version alone scoring 11,900 registrations. With prices starting at 100,000 CNY ($15,000), demand is strong, despite the fierce internal competition (the BYD Seal for the BEV version and the Destroyer 05 for the PHEV version). Expect BYD’s lower priced midsize sedan to continue posting strong results, at the cost of its most expensive siblings. It should have no problem keeping its most direct competitors at a safe distance. As such, the leadership spot in the midsize sedan category for the whole year of 2023 is assured for the BYD sedan.

#5 — BYD Dolphin

The small-to-compact hatchback scored a record 35,246 registrations, allowing it to be 5th. With the Dolphin now focused on sending units to export markets, it seems that BYD is happy to have it running at around 30,000 units/month in its domestic market. This should still allow the model regular presences in the Chinese top 5. The Dolphin is one of BYD’s Musketeers in overseas markets, joining the Yuan Plus/Atto 3 hatchback and the Seal sedan, which will stand as a solid honor guard to the future D’Artagnan of the lineup, the BYD Seagull.

BYD Dolphin, courtesy of BYD.
BYD Seal, courtesy of BYD.
BYD Seagull
BYD Seagull, courtesy of BYD.

Looking at the rest of the table, and with this being a record month, it was records galore throughout the table. Besides the aforementioned models, the biggest surprise was the#11 AITO M7 scoring a record 17,039 sales — again, a new record performance for the full size SUV. After a rather discreet 2023 career for its AITO automotive venture, Huawei decided to give it a shot in the arm and in September it launched a refreshed M7 model, and with it, dropped the price by a whole $6,000 USD! (Of course, sitting on a huge mountain of cash allows Huawei to indulge in these kind of things….)

Well, the effort paid off. The plant where the AITO M7 is made is now running at full steam (or full electricity?), and Huawei’s next target is to replicate the M7 success in the XXL-sized M9 SUV, said to land soon. The Seres–Huawei JV is looking to become the next Li Auto.

Just below AITO’s M7 sits this model’s most direct competitor, with Li Auto’s L7 model ending November in #12 with a record 16,599 registrations. Expect a close race between these two and the current full size king, the #10 BYD Han, for the category’s December title — which might also precede the 2024 race in the category. Once a BYD stronghold, with the Han/Tang tandem, these two startups could (should?) replace the all mighty BYD in the full size throne.

Further down the table, Li Auto saw another model hit record scores. The L8 seven-seater ended the month with 12,476 registrations, allowing it to end the month in 16th place. Add the Cadillac Escalade-like L9 ending in #19, and we again have all three models from the startup ending in the top 20….

On the opposite side of the automotive spectrum, the small Geely Panda Mini also hit record sales, 15,188 registrations, allowing it to be 14th.

Still on the topic of the top 20, the other big news is VW’s ID.3 reaching the 17th position, with 12,040 registrations. The German hatchback is continuing its recent record streak, once again proving the mantra “lower price, higher sales.”

Finally, we should highlight the first table presence of the BYD Seal PHEV. Unlike what the name might imply, this model has nothing to do with the BEV Seal. It is in reality a more stylishly designed BYD Han PHEV. It ended November in 18th, with a record 12,011 registrations.

Outside the top 20, the highlights are varied, proving the diversity of the Chinese EV market. In the fresh blood startup category, XPeng’s take on the Model Y theme G6 midsize SUV got 8,613 registrations, a near record month. Leap Motor’s T03 city car had its best result ever, 7,452 registrations. The midsize C11 was also strong with 7,356 registrations.

One surprising performance was the IM Motors LS6 model, the SAIC-Alibaba JV take on the Tesla Model Y formula, which reached 8,158 units in only its 3rd month on the market. It seems SAIC finally has a winner in the midsize category. Will it reach the top 20 soon?

Meanwhile, Geely had good news across its long list of brands, with the Zeekr 001 posting a solid 6,751 registrations, the Lynk & Co 08 PHEV ramping up deliveries to 10,019 units in only its 4th month on the market, and the sub-brand Galaxy having its L7 sedan reach 8,473 registrations.

General Motors this time had something to celebrate, with the Buick Velite 6 station wagon scoring a record 8,083 registrations. A good omen for the recent Buick Electra E5?

Great Wall’s investment in PHEV models is starting to pay off, with the Haval Raptor PHEV midsize SUV scoring 6,025 registrations in only its second month on the market. Meanwhile, Chery’s delicious QQ Ice Cream landed 9,219 registrations, its best result in over a year.

Finally, from foreign OEMs, one highlight is the VW ID.4’s 6,746 registrations, pulling the German crossover from anonymity in the Middle Kingdom. This again confirms that price cuts can do miracles for one’s career. Another model from a foreign make that’s shining is the BMW 3-Series converted into a BEV, called the i3. With 6,141 registrations, the midsize BMW scored a record performance and is helping the brand to recover some traction in the plugin market.

The 20 Best Selling Electric Vehicles in China — January–November 2023

Looking at the 2023 ranking, the BYD Song is well above the competition, while the runner-up BYD Qin Plus has kept the #3 Tesla Model Y at bay. But will the 15,000-unit advantage be enough for the Chinese sedan to resist the US crossover’s pressure in December? Or will the Tesla Model Y recover the silver medal, thus recovering the runner-up spot that it had lost in 2022?

Off the podium, the 4th position saw a change in model. The BYD Dolphin recovered the spot from its sibling, the Yuan Plus, while a couple of steps below, with GAC’s Aion S currently in the slow lane, the Wuling Mini EV and BYD Seagull climbed to 7th and 8th, respectively, in November.

Expect the little BYD to reach the 6th spot by the end of December, thus putting 5 BYDs in the top 6 positions.

In the second half of the table, the Li Xiang L7 continues on the rise, having climbed one position in November to #15.

We should mention that all three Li Auto models are in the top 20. Apart from the all-mighty BYD, no one else has that many models in the top 20, and it helps to explain why this is the hottest EV startup right now.

Finally, the #19 Geely Panda Mini is looking to climb a position in December, as the #18 Li Xiang L9 is little more than 2,000 units ahead.

Looking at the auto brand ranking, there’s no major news. BYD (33.9%) remains stable in its leadership position and is looking to win its 10th plugin automaker title this year, while Tesla remained in 2nd with the same 7.5% share it had in October.

Third-placed GAC Aion was again down by 0.2% share, to 6.2%, due to the slow month of the Aion S. Then, #4 SGMW (5.6%) and #5 Li Auto (4.6%) held steady in their positions. Behind the startup, #6 Changan (4.3%) and #7 Geely (4%) also remained stable.

Looking at OEMs/automotive groups/alliances, BYD is comfortably leading with 36.1% share of the market, while Tesla (7.5%) remains ahead of #3 SAIC (7.2%, up from 7.1%).

One step down, Geely–Volvo is growing, now at 7% share, up by 0.6% compared to the previous month thanks to the rising sales of several subsidiaries (Zeekr, Lynk & Co…), allowing it to surpass GAC (6.6%, down 0.3%) and become the new #4.

Below it, #6 Changan (4.8%) has maintained some distance over #7 Li Auto (4.6%), but next month could bring a position change between them.

See other EV sales reports here.

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