Gas-Powered Car Sales In China Down Around 4% While EV Sales Up ~145% In 2021

I saw an interesting tweet by Sam Korus from ARK Invest yesterday. He shared that gas-powered car sales in China were down around 4% in 2021, while battery electric vehicle sales were up ~145%. He pointed out that China’s passenger auto sales were up 4.4% to a total of 20.1 million units last year and EVs were basically responsible for that growth. He pointed to an article by the Wall Street Journal and also data from (a frequent CleanTechnica contributor).

WSJ noted that China’s car market broke a 3-year decline thanks to the strong sales of EVs and despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the global chip shortage. What drove the growth were primarily EVs and plug-in hybrid EV sales. The article also predicted that China’s passenger-car market is likely to grow an additional 5% this year, with plug-in vehicles making up at least a quarter of those sales. You can read more here.

According to EV-Volumes, there were a total of 2.65 million new EVs sold during the first half of 2021, which represented a 168% increase compared with 2020. During the first half of 2020, however, the world was experiencing the onset of an unprecedented pandemic. Considering that there is a new variant every time we blink, it sometimes seems that 2020 was 2020 years ago and not just 2.

With that in mind, it’s easy to forget that sales were down drastically that year. That aside, 2021 saw strong increases in EV sales in most of the regions selling them and EV-Volumes noted that the growth rates were 3 to 8 times higher than for the total light vehicle markets. The article noted:

“The share of BEV+PHEV in global light vehicle sales increased from 3 % in 2020 H1 to 6,3 % this year. Europe (EU+EFTA+UK) leads with 14 % EV share for the first 6 months combined, up from 7 % a year ago. A caveat is that half of Europe’s EV sales are PHEVs, compared to 80 % pure electric outside Europe.”

Strong Demand For EVs
These numbers translate to strong demand for EVs, and since Tesla is the global leader in EV sales, I just want to quickly point out that this article I’d written in February 2021 predicted Tesla Giga Shanghai would have a very big year did come true, based especially on insights from Ray4Tesla. Tesla had its best-selling year by far, and Tesla China produced a large portion of those, and sold almost 71,000 EVs in China. With that said, sales in other EVs followed suit.

The video above by The Electric Viking was posted a couple of months ago, in November 2021. I’m including it here because I feel that it kind of showed a preview of what we are seeing now.

“Sales of EVs in China hit 15% for two straight months in a row in September and October this year. That’s a tripling of EV sales versus the same months in China last year.”

Electric vehicles are seeing high demand worldwide and China is a huge portion of that demand. The market, The Electric Viking noted, is transitioning to electric cars faster than any single mainstream media publication has come close to projecting would happen.

Another thing noted in both EV-Volumes and by The Electric Viking is how affordable EVs are in China. The Electric Viking said:

“In China, where people can get an EV for the same price as a FEV or a petrol vehicle, they almost always choose an electric one. 82.3% of all new energy vehicles sold were fully electric.”

EV-Volumes noted:

“Most striking, though, is the re-bound of mini-EVs in China, now at ultra-affordable prices of 30-60 000 RMB. Read Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, Great Wall Ora R1, Chery eQ, SAIC Roewe Clever, Baojun, and others. Around 300 000 units of them were sold during H1, a quarter of all NEV sales in China. They offer a long due improvement over countless, dodgy Low-Speed Vehicles from the earlier days, which are now banned by regulators. The new breed is exempted from some M1 vehicle requirements, often receives no subsidies but is, nevertheless, counted in the Chinese NEV tally.”