Chinese EV Market Outshines Others with 46% Sales Growth in 2023

The Chinese electric vehicle market has proven time and time again that Elon Musk’s concerns about the country monopolizing the global EV industry aren’t unfounded. China undoubtedly has the largest electric vehicle market on the globe and the most developed public-charging infrastructure.

Furthermore, most of the world’s plug-in EV sales occur in China. Electric vehicle companies in China sold eight million new plug-in EVs in 2023 alone, outshining foreign automakers with an astonishing sales growth rate of 46%. Recent data shows that plug-in EVs accounted for 37% of all vehicle sales in China last year, highlighting the nation’s growing appetite for alternative energy transportation options such as battery electric cars (BEVs). China recorded the highest sales growth in the plug-in electric vehicle segment in December, representing the fifth monthly record in a row.

All-electric cars comprised 25% of the Chinese market compared to 22% in 2022, 12% in 2021 and 5.1% in 2020. Plug-in hybrids accounted for 12% of market share in 2023 compared to 8% in 2022, 3% in 2021 and 1.2% in 2020. Battery electric vehicles experienced a 31% increase in sales while plug-in hybrid electric cars saw a whopping 80% increase in new registrations. Electric car registrations increased by 31% year-over-year in 2023, reaching around 618,000 and breaking an additional record.

Drivers in China also registered 362,000 plug-in hybrid units in December, a massive year-over-year increase of close to 80%. PHEV demand likely increased due to the release of newer models with larger batteries. Cumulatively, electric vehicles accounted for 46% of total vehicle sales in 2023. The increase in sales was mostly driven by surging demand for both BEVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

With EV prices in China trending lower than in other major markets, consumers in the country are flocking to buy affordable, locally made electric cars. Consequently, Chinese drivers purchased both BEVs and PHEVs in record numbers in 2023.

Domestic brands such as BYD performed extremely well in 2023. BYD secured a large portion of the EV market share and surpassed Tesla in sales in Q4 2023, pushing it to the ropes and forcing the Texas-based EV maker to cut prices several times.

Although Tesla EVs such as the Model Y are now consumer favorites, the American carmaker also has to contend with competition from Chinese EVs such as the BYD Song Plus, which are rapidly gaining consumer favorite status as well.

The BYD Song Plus was the best-selling EV with 72,182 units sold followed by the Tesla Model Y (60,055), BYD Qin Plus (41,142), BYD Seagull (41,012) and BYD Yuan Plus (Atto 3) with 30,799 registered units.

Given the rate at which Chinese EV companies such as NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) are gaining market share, it wouldn’t be surprising when they attain household name status in the way that legacy automakers such as GM and Toyota have enjoyed over the decades.

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