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China Plug-in Vehicle Sales – Q4 and Full Year 2015

December bought another record in sales of New Energy Vehicles in China. 34 100 passenger cars with NEV status (Plug-ins: Battery-EVs, Plug-in Hybrids, Fuel-cell EVs) were sold during December. Market share was a respectable 1,4 % in December.

The complete year 2015 finishes at 188 700 passenger car NEVs, a growth by 223 % over 2014 and much higher than most of us expected at the beginning of 2015. Market share for 2015 was 0,9 %. On top of that, there is an additional NEV volume of 124 000 electric busses and other commercial vehicles which we are not tracking in detail. Both, in volume and share, China is now by far the largest market for Plug-ins, 50 % above the US market in 2015.

Also the Chinese passenger car market had an all time high in December with 2 442 100 units sold, despite the recent downturn in other economic indicators. Also the total 2015 finished as the best sales year ever, with 21 109 000 passenger cars sold, regretfully 99,1 % of them were not Plug-ins, yet.

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Chinese EV sales shares boosted by mini EVs

In the quarters 1 to 3, the success of BYD Qin and BYD Tang shifted sales towards plug-in hybrids. In Q4, the mix returned to higher EV sales again, driven by high sales of mini-EVs, the same time as the two popular PHEVs BYD Qin and Roewe 550 had a particularly weak quarter.

BEVs have to meet tougher technical requirements for 2016, to be eligible for the generous subsidies. Their all-electric range needs to be at least 100 km, up from 80 km. Purchase subsidies depend on all-electric range and are reduced by 5000 RMB (700 €) for lower range EVs in 2016. This boosted demand for mini-EVs in Q4, before the reduction became effective.

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New Energy Vehicle market is up-grading

The largest portion of NEV sales is still to mini-EVs, many of them 2-seaters below 3 meters of overall length. 2015 they stood for 40 % of NEV sales, counting only EVs, they stood for 60 %. Much of the growth in 2015 is still attributed to the A-segment, but they lost 9,3 % share in total NEV sales. Buyers are upgrading into B- and C-Segments, as new models became available at attractive prices.

The most significant development is the growth of SUVs in the sector. The BYD Tang PHEV is the only high-volume entry and is among the best selling NEVs since its start in June 2015. It now outsells its stablemate BYD Qin, a D-Segment sedan, which was leading the charts since 2014.

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