Norway is leading the electric vehicle revolution, but China is rapidly gaining ground. According to Bloomberg Hyperdrive (e-mail), a total of 722,000 passenger cars and commercial vehicles with sockets were sold in China in October. Battery electric vehicles accounted for 22% of the passenger car market and plug-in hybrids took another 9%. BYD leads the sales chart.
China’s share of global passenger electric vehicle sales has risen from 26% in 2015, to 48% in 2021, to 56% in the first half of 2022. Bloomberg’s Colin McKerracher says he expects a strong increase in the last months of this year which could push the total market share of electric vehicles in China to 60%. In trucks, buses and two-wheeled vehicles, China is even further ahead.
Here are five takeaways from electric vehicle sales in China this month:
1) The average range of electric cars is steadily increasing. There are now nearly 250 different battery electric models on sale in the Chinese passenger car market, and the average range of models sold so far this year was 420 kilometers (261 miles), as measured by the NEDC standard. . Micro cars like the Wuling Air average less than 250 miles of range, while large sedans and SUVs often offer ranges of 500 miles or more. The average range across all segments has increased by 42% since 2018.
2) Lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) batteries continue to take more and more market share. Because they don’t use cobalt or nickel, they generally cost less than other types of EV batteries. The number of new electric vehicle models in China using LFP batteries is growing rapidly and now accounts for half of all models released to market. This drives significant downward revisions to cobalt demand forecasts and highlights the ability of the electric vehicle market to adapt to different pricing dynamics and external pressures, Bloomberg said.
3) The efficiency of electric vehicles in China is slowly but steadily improving. Despite the increase in average ranges and associated battery sizes, the average efficiency of electric vehicles has improved by around 2% per year since 2018. This is mainly due to more efficient motors and power electronics. , better thermal management systems and efforts to reduce weight in other parts. of the car. Larger vehicles saw the greatest improvements, despite their average battery size increasing over this period. As more cell-to-pack and cell-to-frame battery designs and other advances will take place in the near future, efficiency gains are expected to continue.
4) Plug-in hybrids (PHEV) are taking off in larger vehicle segments. While plug-in hybrid sales are slowing in Europe and never really took off in North America, they are finding real traction in larger vehicle segments in China. PHEVs reached 15% of sales in the large car segment and almost 25% in the large SUV segment from January to August. This is partly because high battery prices make it difficult to fully electrify larger and heavier vehicles while keeping them competitive.
Chinese automakers have also delivered much higher electric range on their PHEVs than most global brands, many of which treat PHEVs primarily as a compliance tool to meet emissions targets rather than design them around needs. consumers. Plug-in hybrids are also becoming a popular choice in areas where the public charging infrastructure is not as developed. Sales patterns in China show that the technology is certainly not dead yet and probably still has a role to play. The biggest challenge is making sure they’re actually plugged in and charged.
5) Electric vehicle sales are expanding beyond the largest cities. Places like Shanghai and Beijing have had high adoption rates for electric vehicles for several years now, in part due to city-level policies that limit the number of new license plates issued. Electric vehicles were exempt from some of these restrictions, making them a popular choice in Chinese megacities. These cities also have groups of local automakers and component suppliers, good charging infrastructure, and other incentives driving the adoption of electric vehicles. But the past two years have seen electric vehicle sales spread rapidly in smaller cities and towns, underscoring the fact that electrification isn’t just a big-city phenomenon.
The take-out electric car in China
The real question is when will Chinese electric car makers start exporting their products to global markets? For now, there seems to be enough demand in China to run all these factories, but at some point these companies will want to expand their sales to other countries.
Much will depend on the policies China puts in place regarding the business practices that its major manufacturers are expected to follow. Just this week, a Chinese national was arrested in Canada and charged with industrial espionage. This kind of stuff makes people nervous about doing business with Chinese interests. If anything is stopping the Chinese from dominating the world of electric cars, it will be politics, not vehicle quality.
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