China EV sales forecast to hit 6m

Last month alone, sales of new energy vehicles more than doubled to 486,000, prompting an industry group to raise its original forecast of 5.5m this year

Electric vehicles (EV) sales in China are forecast to hit a record 6 million this year as consumers flock to cleaner cars.

The China Passenger Car Association yesterday raised its estimate from 5.5 million, after releasing data showing deliveries of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) more than doubled last month to about 486,000 units — accounting for 26.7 percent of the new auto market.

Overall passenger vehicle sales increased 20.1 percent from a year earlier to 1.84 million units, the association said.

Photo: Reuters

The increased forecast represents a doubling from last year’s 2.99 million NEV sales, underscoring the dramatic growth in demand for cleaner cars in China, and the challenge for legacy automakers to adapt in a market that is rapidly going green.

The increased forecast of 6 million is still “relatively speculative,” the association said in a statement, adding that it could be further increased at the start of the fourth quarter.

Tesla Inc delivered 28,217 cars, with 8,461 going to the local market and 19,756 exported, mostly to Europe and Asia. The sharp drop of 64 percent from June was mainly caused by production shutdowns to upgrade its Shanghai factory as part of a plan to double annual capacity to 1 million vehicles.

BYD Co (比亞迪), which earlier this year ended production of cars powered only by fossil fuels, reported monthly sales of 162,530 units — both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

While Tesla and BYD dominate EV sales, smaller start-ups are also making inroads as demand for clean car surges.

Eight-year-old Hozon New Energy Automobile Co (合眾新能源汽車), which started by targeting customers outside big cities with budget cars, delivered 14,037 vehicles last month, including 1,382 to overseas markets.

Leapmotor Technologies Ltd (零跑科技), which competes in the same price range as Hozon, shipped a record 12,044 cars.

Overall, domestic automakers are grabbing a bigger slice of the NEV market. The main Chinese brands commanded 73 percent of NEV passenger car sales last month, up 9 percentage points from a year earlier.

Local upstarts, including the likes of Xpeng Inc (小鵬汽車), Li Auto Inc (理想汽車) and Nio Inc (蔚來汽車), accounted for 16.5 percent, while the main international joint ventures (which excludes Tesla) took just a 6.5 percent share.

The central and local governments have also taken steps to help the auto industry recover from COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that crushed sales earlier this year.

In May, the central government cut purchase taxes on some low-emission passenger vehicles by 50 percent, while municipal governments have pitched in with subsides and incentives to entice buyers.

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