China’s BYD cuts into Tesla’s lead in global EV sales
Published on: Saturday, July 30, 2022
By: Nikkei Asia, FMT
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BYD’s affordable prices have helped them draw in younger car buyers. (BYD pic)
TOKYO: China’s BYD became the world’s No 2 seller of electric vehicles globally for the first six months of 2022 on the strength of lower-priced models, trailing only Tesla, while the Hyundai Motor group rose to fifth, in a Nikkei ranking.

BYD, which was fourth in 2021, sold 324,000 EVs in the January-June half to pass Chinese rival SAIC Motor and Volkswagen. The Berkshire Hathaway-backed company ended the production of gasoline-powered vehicles in March to focus on electrics and plug-in hybrids.

BYD also sold more than 300,000 plug-in hybrids in the first half of 2022. When these are considered along with the EVs, the company ranked as the world’s top seller of electrified autos.

BYD’s broad EV lineup, including the Yuan Plus sport utility vehicle and the Dolphin subcompact, centres on the 100,000 to 200,000 yuan (US$15,000 to US$30,000) range. The relatively low prices have helped to attract younger car buyers. Plans to sell passenger vehicles in Japan were announced last week, with an SUV among the offerings from 2023.

For the ranking, Nikkei used data from market research firm MarkLines and automakers, covering roughly 3 million EVs sold in 66 major markets.

Tesla, the market leader in 2021, remained on top in the first half of 2022, with sales of 564,000 vehicles. But it hit a few speed bumps this year.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China slowed production at the EV maker’s Shanghai plant, limiting sales growth for the first half to 46% from a year earlier – compared with around 90% growth in 2021. Telsa’s EV sales grew by about half on the year in the first half, while BYD’s count more than tripled.

With new factories in Berlin and the US state of Texas, Tesla seeks to boost sales of its popular Model Y compact SUV.

The Hyundai group’s EV sales doubled to 169,000 vehicles. The Ioniq 5 SUV that debuted in 2021 features an EV-specific platform, helping to extend its range. The vehicle can run 100km on a five-minute charge. Sharing components with affiliate Kia’s EV6 has reduced costs.

Hyundai’s sales growth is driven by a shift in its mainstay US market, where sharply higher gasoline prices have accelerated the move to EVs. The Hyundai group sold 13,000 each of the Ioniq 5 and the EV6 in the US in the first half of the year.

For the April-June quarter, EV sales in the US grew 70% to 204,000 vehicles, according to MarkLines, to account for 6% of overall sales there.

SAIC slipped to third, with 310,000 vehicles sold in the first half, facing a slowdown in sales of the Hongguang Mini EV made by joint venture SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile. Priced under US$4,500 at 2021 exchange rates, the car was a hit in China’s regional cities. But the higher cost of materials forced a price hike, dampening sales.

Meanwhile, Japanese carmakers have fallen behind. Some had expected that the spike in gasoline prices would push car buyers toward hybrids, but EV sales have grown faster.

The alliance of Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors dropped to sixth, with 133,000 vehicles sold. Toyota Motor and Honda Motor sold 10,000 EVs each, ranking outside the top 20.

The top 20 EV sellers included 12 Chinese carmakers. New York-listed XPeng’s sales grew 120% while Hozon New Energy Automobile sold three times as many units as in the same period the previous year. Leapmotor, a Hangzhou-based startup founded in 2015, sold 50,000 vehicles to break into the top 20 at 17th place.

On the EV sales outlook for the second half, S&P Global Mobility’s Masatoshi Nishimoto says that “sales are likely to grow with China and Europe continuing their subsidies”. But he says that the “sales outlook for next year and beyond is uncertain”, considering the risk of even higher electricity rates over the winter amid the Ukraine crisis.

British research firm LMC Automotive projects that EV sales will quintuple to 34.58 million vehicles in 2030.


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