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China Plug-in Sales 2016 Q4 and Full Year

The year finished with 351 000 Plug-in passenger cars delivered, which makes China by far the largest market for Plug-ins (or New Energy Vehicles, NEV, as they are called in China). The increase over 2015 was 85 %, which is much less than in previous years, but more than in any other of the large economies. Share in Passenger Car sales was 1,45 % for the year, which is still  far cry from leading Norway (24 %), but best among all larger car markets with total sales above 1 million, Chinas PEV share is similar to France and UK for 2016. The overall passenger car market in China increased by 15 % of 24,3 million units in 2016.

July was the first month when NEVs share passed the 2 % mark in total passenger vehicle sales. Our expectations that this trend continues throughout the year were not fulfilled. December, usually the grand final for Plug-in sales, was particularly disappointing. More stringent requirements for local subsidies and more controls to avoid bogus registrations were part of the story.

From 2017 onwards, central NEV subsidies are reduced by 20 %, Local subsidies by 50-60 %. Some of the support is redirected to the availability of better batteries. Beyond 2017, the Government has expressed ambitious targets for production, market shares and technical content of NEVs, which also will affect importers of regular vehicles.  ZEV targets (like in California) and trading of emission certificates are other proposals. The deck is being reshuffled and the NEV market in China is going to stay interesting, to say the least.

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China leads in passenger car volume and in electric busses

Since it took off in 2014, the Chinese NEV market has increase over five-fold, a development which is unmatched by any country with notable Plug-in sales back then. Since 2014, the number of OEM in the field (with over 100 units sales) has increased from 14 to 21. The number of available plug-in models (with more than 10 units sales) from 29 to 68.

Our detailed, regular reporting is for the passenger car market. In addition, over 150 000 commercial vehicles were sold in the NEV category in 2016, 80 % of them are large buses, most of them fully electric. Regarding electric busses, 98 % of world sales are in China, today. The domestic sales leader is Yutong, the export leader is BYD.

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third China Plug-in Sales 2016 Q4 and Full Year image

Rapid shift back towards EVs

With the success of the BYD Qin and Tang PHEVs, the mix shifted towards plug-in hybrids in 2015. Additionally for 2016, subsidies became depending on all-electric range, with 100 km as a minimum requirement for BEVs. Many of the ever so popular mini-EVs had to be upgraded to retain subsidies in China. This caused low sales of mini-EVs during Q1 and strong rebound during the 2nd half of the year. New Smart-type models with decent specs and range, like the Zotye E200 EV contributed strongly to the revival.

We have recently started the worldwide tracking of regular hybrid vehicles (HEV), with some interesting results: Total HEV sales in China added up to just 85 000 units in 2016, only 13 models were on sale and apart from some hundreds for Buick, Honda and Nissan, the entire volume came from Toyota and their luxury division Lexus.


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