Total NEV (New Energy Vehicle, which includes both BEV and PHEV but excludes HEV) sales for the 1Q21 period reached 1.09 million units, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Of this figure, BEVs accounted for 750,000 units in sales, a 153% growth YoY, while PHEVs accounted for 340,000 units in sales, a 128% growth YoY. In particular, Chinese automakers collectively possessed the largest shares in the BEV market in 1Q21, and certain Chinese BEV manufacturers moved up in the rankings accordingly. Other than longstanding market leader Tesla, Chinese automakers Wuling Hongguang, BYD, and ORA occupied three of the top five spots.
With regards to the BEV market, Tesla remained firmly as the sales leader, primarily thanks to Model 3, which surpassed Model Y by more than 50,000 units in sales despite the latter’s sales growth. Wuling Hongguang continued to set sales records in the Chinese market with its Hongguang MINI, which retails for a modest RMB 28,800. Not only was the MINI the highest-selling BEV in China in 1Q21, but Wuling Hongguang also leapfrogged to second place in the top 10 by overtaking Volkswagen and BYD, which ranked second and third in the global BEV market last year. Chinese automaker ORA ranked fifth in 1Q21 mainly thanks to the ORA R1, which is also known as the ORA Black Cat and retails for RMB 69,800, with a driving range of 301km. Much like the Hongguang MINI, the ORA R1 has been highly popular in its home market.
As one of the Chinese automakers whose models are relatively high-priced, NIO took seventh place on the top 10 list. NIO’s EVs support both charging and battery swapping functions. As well, the automaker has been offering BaaS (battery-as-a-service) since 2020, and NIO EVs that are paired with a BaaS subscription plan can be purchased at a RMB 70,000 discount. These functional and cost-oriented advantages will likely propel NIO’s sales even further.
With regards to the PHEV market, changes in the sales rankings for 1Q21 were relatively minor, with no changes in the top four spots, occupied by European automakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Volkswagen, respectively. Toyota rose through the ranks and took the fifth position after it released PHEV versions of its popular RAV4 and Prius models. Notably, Li Xiang, or Li Auto, has been gaining traction in the Chinese market. The automaker was able to break into the top 10 list of PHEV sales via only one model, the Li Xiang One, and whether it can maintain this remarkable performance going forward remains to be seen.
On the whole, TrendForce believes that the regional fluctuation of EV sales will be the key to determining the ranking of automakers in the NEV market. In particular, Chinese automakers are able to benefit from several factors: first, China’s vast market; second, the Chinese government’s push for NEV sales in rural areas since March 2021; and finally, online auto retailers’ sales promotions during shopping seasons such as the Shuangpin Shopping Festival (or Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival). Sales performances in the European market, on the other hand, appear relatively uncertain in 2Q21 due to each European country’s varying market conditions, border restrictions, and pandemic responses.