China Electric Vehicle Sales More Than Double in First Half of 2018

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In the first six months of 2018, half of all passenger plug-in electric vehicles (called New Energy Vehicles or NEVs) sold worldwide were purchased in China. On top of that, 70% of all-electric commercial vehicles (trucks and buses) were also sold in China.

In May, according to the latest data from EV-volumes, a record 4.8% of the nearly 2 million passenger cars sold in China were NEVs. For the first half of 2018, 373,000 NEVs were sold, a year-over-year increase of 114%.

The pace slowed in June, however, and is expected to remain more modest (60% or so) for the rest of the year after the government put new regulations in place related to the range requirement (a minimum of 150 km for a battery-electric on a single charge) and battery capacity of 105 watts per kilogram. Several popular models did not meet the specifications and were withdrawn from the market. Sales are expected to pick up once new models are released that meet the government’s guidelines.

Nearly all (96%) of the NEVs sold in China are also manufactured in the country. Imports accounted for just 15,000 new cars sold in the first half of the year. Tesla’s Model S sold 3,000 units and the Model X sold 6,000 units in China in the first half of 2018.

EV-volumes expects NEV sales to reach 1.1 million units in China this year. Of that total, 74% are forecast to be battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) like the Tesla Model S or the Nissan Leaf and the rest are expected to be plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt. The total 2018 market for new cars in China is forecast at 26.3 million units.

Since June of 2017, the total number of plug-in models available in China has risen from 56 to 101. Of those, 70 are BEVs and 31 are PHEVs, and all are manufactured by 39 automakers. EV-volumes reported that 11 new carmakers joined the NEV fray over the past 12 months and that a shakeout is likely.

The Chinese government’s stated goal is to have 5 million NEVs on the country’s roads by the end of 2020. EV-volumes expects the number to reach about 2.35 million by the end of this year. At current growth rates, 5 million seems like a slam dunk.