top sales 2021 in China

In 2021, the Chinese automotive market broke records for electric vehicles. 3.5 million copies were sold with a cap now set at 5 million for 2022. Let’s go back in detail to the makes and models that work and that don’t.

2021 will have marked a sharp change in the growth curve of electric vehicle sales in China. In previous years, volume growth was visible but ultimately relatively weak. After a year of 2020 impacted by COVID, the market growth was spectacular in 2021. In total, 3.104 million units were sold (3.5 with utilities and imports) in a market of 20.07 million. This is a 15% market share (for locally produced private cars, like all figures below). Doubled from 2020, participation is now approaching the official quota level (16% in 2022).

Of all these sales, the majority of vehicles are battery electric (BEV). Plug-in hybrids actually only account for 2% of the Chinese market, while range extender models are capped at 0.5% of sales. The remaining 12.5% ​​is therefore for BEVs.

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Evolution of NEV sales from 2019 to 2021 in China

Top brands of 2021 in China

The market is currently dominated by three players, whose sales of New Energy Vehicles (NEV) are above 2% market share (quota calculated on the total market). BYD looks like the grand champion. The Chinese manufacturer had been buying time advocating the switch to electric for years. With this inflection point in 2021, it has finally become a major player in the market. With all models combined, it entered the Top 10 of the Chinese car market for the first time. And when it comes to NEVs, it’s the first with nearly 600,000 units. Building on the success of its Mini EV, Wuling came in second with 426,484 units.

On the 3rd step of the podium comes Tesla with 320,743 registrations. As a bonus, the Shanghai plant is running at full speed, producing more than half of the vehicles delivered by the brand worldwide in 2021, with more than 480,000 vehicles produced.

While the other brands remain below 1% of market share, four manage to surpass the 100 thousand units mark: Ora, Aion, Volkswagen and Roewe.

Note the significant weight of Chinese start-ups. The 7 present in the Top 20 below combine 2.25% of market share (15% of NEV). Thanks to the success of the P7 sedan, the Xpeng surpasses the Nio in 2021. It will continue in 2022 with the launch of the P5 and G9 on the one hand, and the ET7 and ET5 on the other… range extender. The surprise of the year is in fact the Neta that really took off with the Neta U, and especially the Neta V. The Weltmeister, on the other hand, is in a much less favorable trend.

China’s top 20 brands 2021 Volume 2021 Market share
(total market)
BYD 588 918 2.85%
Wuling (SAIC-GM)
426 484 2.06%
You are here 320,743 1.55%
Ora (Great Wall)
135,028 0.65%
Aion (GAC)
120 155 0.58%
Volkswagen 113,002 0.55%
Roewe (SAIC)
104 175 0.50%
Xpeng 98 155 0.48%
93,650 0.45%
nio 91,429 0.44%
Ideal leader / LI Auto 90 491 0.44%
Changan 76,438 0.37%
Netta (Hozon Auto)
69,674 0.34%
BMW 47,316 0.23%
Geely 45,446 0.22%
jump engine
44,906 0.22%
Weltmeister 44 157 0.21%
Sihao (JAC)
41 1 62 0.20%
MG (SAIC) 39 9 52 0.19%
let in 30 4 67 0.15%

Model registration: Hongguang Mini EV is a hit

With over 426,000 units sold, the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is crushing everyone. It alone accounts for more than one in 10 electric cars sold in China. The competition arrives en masse (Dongfeng, Chery, BAIC…) and in the form of copies.

In 2nd and 4th places are the Tesla Model Y and Model 3. A success that undoubtedly boosts sales of electric vehicles, but which certainly does not do business for local start-ups.

BYD ranks third and places most of its range in the top sellers: Song Plus, Han, Song, Tang, Yuan, e2 are in the top 20 of the ranking.

Leading Ideal is the best-selling Chinese start-up, ahead of Xpeng P7 and Neta V.

Besides Teslas, non-Chinese models are rare in the Top 50. There are only 6… The Volkswagen ID.4 Crozz thus arrives in 28th. The accumulation of the two versions of the ID.4 (in the two joint ventures) would place the model in 15th place behind the BYD Tang.

Many of the best-selling models enter China as usual in the upper segments: C, D or E. But small cars are experiencing a resurgence of interest due to several factors: the purchase of a second car, electric, probably a certain desire to depend less public transport, etc. In addition to the little Wuling, the entire A-segment is benefiting from this new customer appeal for small cars. So we see the Chery eQ1, the Changan Benben EV, the Ora Black/White Cat, Leap T03, Sihao E10X, Letin Mango, Pocco Meimei among the best sellers. Often the least appreciated by Chinese customers, the B segment is not far behind the good results of the Ora Good Cat or the first few months of the BYD Dolphin, which could be one of the good surprises of 2022.

50 best models Volume 2021 Market share
(NEV market)
Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (BEV)
426 48 4 13.74%
Tesla Model Y (BEV)
169,853 5.47%
169,807 5.47%
Tesla Model 3 (BEV)
150,890 4.86%
117,665 3.79%
BYD Music (BEV)
108,848 3.51%
Leading the Ideal One (REEV)
90 491 2.92%
Chery eQ1 (BEV)
77,003 2.48%
Changan Benben EV (BEV)
76,438 2.46%
Aion S (BEV)
69 219 2.23%
Ora Black Cat (BEV)
63,492 2.05%
Xpeng P7 (BEV)
60,569 1.95%
Ora Good Cat (BEV)
50,931 1.64%
50,075 1.61%
Granddaughter V (BEV)
49,646 1.60%
Roewe Clever (BEV)
47 3 38 1.53%
41,474 1.34%
BYD Yuan (BEV) 41,402 1.33%
Jump T03 (BEV)
40,245 1.30%
Sihao E10X (BEV)
36,228 1.17%
BYD e2 (BEV)
34,265 1.10%
Aion Y (BEV)
34 108 1.10%
Letin Mango (BEV)
30,467 0.98%
Fengshen E70 (BEV)
30 4 11 0.98%
Nio EC6 (BEV)
29,905 0.96%
Xpeng G3 (BEV)
29,721 0.96%
BYD dolphin (BEV)
29 5 98 0.95%
Volkswagen ID.4 Cross (BEV)
26,853 0.87%
Fengshen EX1 (BEV)
26 102 0.84%
Geely Emgrand (BEV)
25,980 0.84%
Lingbao Box (BEV)
24,977 0.80%
MG HS (PHEV) 24,600 0.79%
Worldmaster EX5 (BEV)
24,025 0.77%
Roewe Ei5 (BEV)
23 9 97 0.77%
BMW 5 Series (PHEV)
23 7 01 0.76%
Volkswagen ID.4X (BEV)
23,174 0.75%
Buick Velote 6 (BEV)
22,843 0.74%
22,446 0.72%
Ora White Cat (BEV)
20,605 0.66%
Nio ES8 (BEV)
20,050 0.65%
Granddaughter U (BEV)
20,028 0.65%
19,794 0.64%
BYD Qin (BEV) 19,477 0.63%
Pocco Meimei (BEV)
18,074 0.58%
Roewe RX5 (BEV + PHEV)
17,349 0.56%
Hongqi E-QM5 (BEV)
16,631 0.54%
Aion V (BEV)
15,825 0.51%
Geometry A (BEV)
14 9 86 0.48%
14,065 0.45%
Honda CR-V (PHEV)
13 2 89 0.43%

Sedan or SUV?

Long dominated by sedans, the Chinese market has seen a rapid rise in SUVs since 2015. Today, the share is roughly equal between the two body types, leaving only a few crumbs for minivans. But things look different in the electric market. Sedans still account for 63.2% of registrations, against just 35.4% for SUVs.

However, the offer is roughly similar in number. That’s 80 electric sedans (or PHEV) versus 90 SUVs. In thermal, the offer of SUVs is much greater than that of sedans (almost twice as much).

Finally, we noticed a drop in the number of models on the market between 2020 and 2021. While new brands emerged, others also disappeared with the pandemic.

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