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Chinese car buyers go green with NEVs

Li Fusheng
Updated: November 13, 2021 09:26    China Daily

Sales of new energy vehicles are expected to maintain high-speed growth in China, as they become a serious choice for volume car buyers, industry experts said.

Deliveries of those vehicles soared 141.1 percent in October to 320,000 units, the China Passenger Car Association said. That means nearly 19 of every 100 passenger car buyers chose electric cars or plug-in hybrids instead of conventional gasoline vehicles, the association said. The percentage was just 5.8 percent in 2020, and has been on the rise since.

From January to October, new energy vehicle deliveries surged 191.9 percent year-on-year to 2.14 million, accounting for roughly 13 percent of total car sales.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the association, said sales will rise even higher in November and December, a pattern seen in the past few years. He expects total deliveries of new energy vehicles, including passenger cars as well as buses and trucks, to hit 3 million this year.

Currently, volume brands are seizing the lion's share of China's new energy vehicle market, a sign of their growing acceptance among ordinary customers.
Six carmakers saw their sales exceed 10,000 units in October. Tesla was the only premium brand, statistics from the China Passenger Car Association showed. China's BYD topped the list with 80,373 units sold that month. Tesla followed at 54,391. The third most popular brand was Wuling, known for its two-seat mini-vehicles, which sold over 42,000 units.

Startups are doing well too. New York-traded Xpeng sold over 10,000 units in October. Nio, which is listed in New York as well, delivered over 24,000 units from July to September. Its chairman, William Li, expects similar volume in the last quarter of the year.

Besides better driving experiences and lower use costs, the fact that car buyers are getting younger is helping promote the popularity of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, said Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

"In the past, first-time car buyers were aged around 30. Now they are younger, and young people would like to try new things, such as new models and new brands," said Chen.

Like Nio and Xpeng, there are around a dozen local startups that have launched or are ready to unveil their models. Traditional carmakers from SAIC to Geely are establishing new dedicated electric car models to appeal to the young.

"So far this year, you can rarely see carmakers launch newly developed gasoline models. Almost all of the new launches are electric or plug-in hybrids," Chen said.

At this year's Guangzhou Auto Show, which is expected to kick off on Nov 19, there will be 241 new energy models, 100 more than at the event last year, its organizers said.

Xu Haidong, deputy chief engineer of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said new energy vehicles are boosting China's vehicle exports, especially to developed countries.

"There is demand and China-made new energy models are competitive," said Xu.

Carmakers including BYD, Nio and FAW's premium Hongqi are exploring overseas markets. China's largest carmaker SAIC delivered over 12,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in Europe in the first half, accounting for almost 60 percent of all its sales on the continent.

"Our rivals are local European brands. In France, they are Renault, Peugeot and Citroen," said Liu Xinyu, president of SAIC's French subsidiary. He said SAIC's success in Europe lies in its products and services. "Our two models in France have five-star safety ratings and we offer a seven-year warranty, which is the longest in the market."