May was the third month in a row that the plugin vehicle share reached the double-digit mark, hitting 12% (9.4% full electrics/BEV). That kept the 2021 share at 10% (8.3% BEV), and considering that the second half of the year is usually China’s strongest, we can now safely assume that the country’s plugin vehicle market share will end comfortably above the 10% mark this year and the total tally of the year will exceed 2 million deliveries!
Not long after Europe, #EVDisruption is now reaching China.
Looking at May’s best sellers, the biggest news is the #4 ranking of the Changan Benni EV, as well as both Teslas showed up on the podium.
Here are May’s top 5 best selling models in more detail:
#1 — Wuling HongGuang Mini EV
With 26,742 registrations last month, the tiny four-seater continues on a roll, allowing it to be 5th in the overall market. If the little Wuling continues at this pace, a half a million score by the end of the year seems a feasible goal. The Wuling EV is becoming a disruptive force in urban mobility, a true EV for the masses, with the added bonus that the people buying it (mostly females, mostly under 35 years old) are usually a hard-to-capture audience. This EV is becoming a game changer, but like in every success story, one wonders what will happen when others start to play on this field.
#2 — Tesla Model Y
Tesla’s new baby had a record 12,728 deliveries last month, and expect it to score another record month in June, in what is now starting to be the usual quarter-end’s Tesla China peak. The midsize crossover’s future cruising 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 the Model 3 by some margin.
# 3 — Tesla Model 3
The poster child for electric mobility had just 9,208 registrations last month — but fear not. Considering that part of Made-in-China Model 3 production is now being exported to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, we should start to see it behave in China like it does elsewhere, meaning poor starts of the quarter, so-so mid-quarter months, and then an end-of-quarter peak, replicating the behavior of the US-made Model 3. This is something we will no doubt have the opportunity to check in June, with the main curiosity being: “Will the Model 3 beat the Model Y in June?”
#4 — Changan Benni EV
The instant success of the Wuling Mini EV left everyone stunned, not only with the insanely low price, but also by the fact that it’s not a cardboard box on wheels, like others had previously been (and with a higher price tag). Instead, it is an acceptable “car” — okay, we have to be liberal with the concept of “car” when we talk about the Wuling EV, but nevertheless, it is far more substantial than any other bargain-basement proposal previously made by other Chinese automakers. But considering the ongoing dynamics of the Chinese EV market, the most competitive in the world, Wuling EV killers competitors won’t take long to appear, and the Changan Benni EV is the first one to tackle the Wuling seriously. The most obvious advantage of it is that it is a proper car, a sort of Toyota Yaris, and it’s pricing starts on par to the Wuling — 29,800 yuan. Yep, for less than $4,000, you can get a Yaris-like EV … in China, of course. And do not expect the latest technology or design in it. On that aspect, the Wuling EV is better, but on the other hand, with 5 doors, 5 seats, and a gigantic (for the price) 23 kWh battery, it is far more practical, making the Wuling the emotional choice while the Changan is the rational/practical choice. Which is better? I guess it depends on each one’s tastes and needs. But another advantage of the Benni EV is that besides that entry-level option, there are other options for more demanding buyers, with the top of the range version having a more powerful (75 hp) electric motor, propelling it to a dizzying top speed of 125 km/h, while also having DC fast-charging and a 32 kWh battery, for just 69,800 yuan, or some 8,900 euros.
With all of this in mind, it’s not only no wonder that the Benni EV hit a record 8,371 deliveries last month, but that 5-digit performances are just within an arm’s reach.
#5 — BYD Han EV
The successful career of BYD’s luxury sedan in China is now at cruising speed, delivering 5,763 units in May, but it was still enough to earn it another top 5 presence. The current poster-boy for BYD is expected to continue going at 5000–7000 units/month in the foreseeable future, leading the full size category, while BYD now bets on doing the same in the categories below.
Looking at the remaining bests sellers table in May, a mention goes out to the rise and rise of the #6 BYD Qin Plus PHEV. BYD’s sleek midsize sedan scored 5,542 registrations last month, its 4th record performance in a row, while its BEV version had 3,263 registrations in only its second month on the market. Counting the two models together (8,805 registrations), the refreshed midsizer has already outsold its Han bigger sibling (8,214), getting dangerously close to the category leader, the Tesla Model 3 (9,208). Expect the Qin twins to continue ramping up deliveries, with June possibly watching them go upwards of the 10,000 unit mark.
Another midsizer model on a roll is the #11 Xpeng P7, which hit a record 3,797 units last month. And with the cheaper LFP battery now starting, expect the startup model to continue expanding sales.
BYD placed 6 models in May’s top 20, with 4 of them performing record scores. Besides the aforementioned Qin Plus twins, the #14 BYD e2 had 3,195 registrations, while the #17 BYD Song Pro PHEV had 3,009 registrations. And highlighting the Shenzhen automaker’s ramp-up, we should signal two other BYD models on the rise, with the MPV D1 recording 2,172 registrations and the SUV Song Pro BEV scoring a record 1,619 registrations. So, it won’t be surprising if we see 8(!) BYDs in this table soon….
Local startups continue to shine. Besides the Xpeng P7, another startup model hit record heights, with the #15 Leap Motor T3 reaching 3,147 units.
Below the top 20, a reference goes out to the good start of the GAC Aion Y, with 2,203 registrations in its second month on the market, so the compact MPV. (Yay! MPVs rule!). It could be a regular in the top 20 soon.
On the Volkswagen Group galaxy, Volkswagen ID.4 deliveries were already down 1,349 units, while its Chinese arm SOL (as in, a rebadged JAC) saw the small E10X hit a record score of 2,257 units.
Looking at the 2021 ranking, the Tesla Model Y jumped two spots, to #3, so we should now have the podium positions defined for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the Changan Benni EV continues to jump positions month after month, having climbed to #7 in May, and expect it to reach #5 in the next couple of months.
Below it, the Tesla Model Y got a little bit closer to the #4 Great Wall Ora Black Cat, which had an off month in April, with Tesla’s SUV set to surpass the small cat in the next couple of months.
In the second half of the table, we have the Xpeng P7 jumping two positions, to #11, while another startup model, the Leapmotor T03, rose to #18.
We have a new face in the top 20, with the BYD Qin Plus PHEV joining the table in #15, and expect it to soon be in the top 10.
Just outside the top 20, we have another BYD on the verge of showing up here, with the e2 hatchback some 1,000 units below the #20 Weltmeister EX5. We could have a 4th BYD in the table soon.
Looking at the automaker ranking, the SGMW joint venture (19%, down 1 percentage point) is in the leadership position, while below it, BYD (13%, up 1 point) has surpassed Tesla (12%), but expect the US automaker to recover again, in June.
Below the podium, SAIC (7%) was stable in 4th, followed by #5 Great Wall (5%, down 1 point) and the #6 NIO (4%), while #7 GAC (4%) could climb some positions soon.
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