Q1 EV Sales China: Rise 30% year-on-year, but is it enough?

Q1 EV Sales China: Rise 30% year-on-year, but is it enough?

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Q1 EV Sales China: Rise 30% year-on-year, but is it enough?

China, the world’s largest market for electric vehicles showed a rise in sales for the first quarter of 2017, improving on 2016 figures by 12,500 units. While March was a particularly good month, selling over 30,000 units, we wonder if the total sales of nearly 56,000 units in the first quarter will be enough for 2017 to beat the record of 350,000 set in 2016?

See our analysis of H1 2017 EV Sales in China for a more up to date take on the Chinese EV market

EV sales for 2017 kicked off rather poorly in January with a disappointingly low 7,000 units. The Chinese holiday season and the regulatory clampdown on the abuse of EV subsidies were blamed for the lackluster sales. Fortunately, sales improved as the following months saw a doubling each month on the previous, setting a very promising trend. Battery Electric Vehicles outsold Plug-In Hybrids by nearly five to one as over 44,000 BEV units were sold compared to only 9,000 PHEV models during the period.

New models were the top sellers, taking three of the top five positions in a country starved for cool looking EVs. Chinese consumers are used to being dished up a mix of inferior cars due to major international brands being forced to partner with local manufacturers. To protect their IP, the global brands produced older variants of their vehicles for the Chinese market. The situation has improved for the Chinese consumer as local producers such as BAIC, SAIC and BYD have started producing improved second generation EV models. The BAIC E180 and BAIC E260, taking the first and third positions for the quarter is a case in point of how the second generation electric vehicles are drawing more buyers to the sector.

2016’s darling, BYD is slipping in the rankings, the company, part-owned by Warren Buffet, which has been the best-selling electric vehicle brand in the world for 2015 and 2016 could only muster two-thirds of BAICs sales. More worrying for BYD is that it had five models in the market compared to BAICs three BEVs. Tesla had a respectable performance with the Model X selling 1,500 units, which is 13% of all Tesla Model X units sold internationally during Q1, accounting for 6% of the company’s total sales for the period.

In total Q1 2017 sales improved 30% on that of the same period in 2016, indicating that 2017 could even be a better year for electric vehicles, despite stricter regulation, proving that electric vehicles are entering the mainstream.

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Norway EV sales Q1 2017

Norway EV sales Q1 2017

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There were 2,250 more electric vehicles sold in Norway than during the same period in 2016, resulting in a 20.03% increase year-on-year. Norway is the darling of the EV sector and is targeting 100% EV ownership by 2025. The country is number three on the list of Top 10 EV markets, and number one the list of EV as a percentage of new vehicle registrations. The country is now officially a growth market, reaching the take-off point for the technology. EV sales in Norway as a percentage of the total fleet for the year 2016 was at a record 29.1%. The prospects for 2017 looks even better, as in January the percentage of EV’s registered achieved a record-breaking 37.5% and kept the momentum for the following two months.

ev sales norway 2017

Small family cars constituted four of the top 5 positions, and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) marginally outsold Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs). The BMW i3, who’s BEV variant made up the overwhelming majority of the models’ sales was the best seller for the quarter and nearly double that of the same period in 2016. The Nissan Leaf showed strong growth and was the best-selling car in March 2017. The Tesla Model X performed better than the Model S, with the Model X being the second best seller of all electric cars in March 2017. The best PHEVs were the VW Passat GTE, the Mitsubishi Outlander, and Mercedes GLC350e. Although still on the top 5 list the Mitsubishi Outlander is showing a significant decline in sales, selling only two-thirds of what it did last year. The Toyota Prius has not performed as well as in some other markets. Mirroring most other markets, the BMW x5 xDrive40e sales in Norway showed a decline, selling a third less when compared to March 2016.

At this rate, we can expect Norwegian EV sales to reach between 55,000 and 60,000 units for the year, edging closer to 50% EV penetration.

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China February EV Sales recovers from New Years slump

China February EV Sales recovers from New Years slump

China February EV Sales recovers from New Years slump

We all held our breath after the disappointing January EV’s sales from the world’s largest market in the sector. January sales were hit by a double whammy of the annual Chinese holiday season and a clamp down on subsidy fraud that plagued the Chinese EV sector, resulting in much stricter regulations by the Chinese Government.

February sales nearly tripled, with the new-comers the BAIC EC180 EV and SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV causing much of the stir. The SAIC Roewe SUV PHEV, introduced in the second half of 2016 is known as the Alibaba Connected Car, running Alibaba’s YunOS software, making the RX5 the world’s first internet car.

Small cars took the Top 4 positions for the month with the small hatchback BAIC EC180 outselling the rest by a long shot. The BAIC EC180, with a range of 180km at a top speed of 100km/h on a 41hp electric motor. BAIC remained the best performing brand for the year with total sales of over 5,000 units followed by SAIC Roewe.

BYD, China’s best-selling brand in 2016 with over 100,000 units from its five models, were the under performer with less than 2,500 units sold for the year-to-date. BYD is 10% owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.

BEV’s outsold PHEV by 3-to-1. Total sales in 2016 were 351,861 units, setting a huge target for the world’s largest EV market. Judging from the first two months sales, it seems difficult to breach.

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