The slump in sales for China’s EVs continued in March, but were still four times better than February. Tesla accounted for over 20% of the total market share, the country’s top industry body said on Thursday.

Why it matters: The latest sales figures show that China’s EV market, hit hard first by subsidy cuts and then by the Covid-19 outbreak, is now on the mend.

  • Tesla is playing a growing role in the world biggest EV market, echoing industry expectations that the company would lift the market from its nine-month slump.

Details: New energy vehicle (NEV) sales in March fell 49% year-on-year to around 56,000 units. In February, sales fell nearly 80% year-on-year, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Thursday.

  • Just over 11,000 NEVs were sold in February, as EV makers struggled to resume operation from a nationwide business disruption caused by the pandemic. It was the lowest point after January 2017, when Beijing began imposing as much as 30% cut on EV subsidy.
  • Tesla contributed sales of 10,160 cars, more than one-fifth of the country’s 47,000 pure electric passenger vehicles sold last month. The EV giant delivered 3,563 and 2,314 cars to customers in the first two months, respectively, according to the government’s car registration numbers.
  • The company’s Shanghai Gigafactory is now its only production base making cars given a large-scale shutdown in its US factories and has been ramping up production to make 3,500 cars per week.
  • Meanwhile, sales of China’s biggest EV maker BYD plunged for the third consecutive month by nearly 70% from a year earlier to 12,256 units.
  • Much the same thing was found in Geely whose EV sales dropped 69% year-on-year to 2,503 units in March.
  • Tesla’s main rival Nio was one of the few automakers bucking the trend, with deliveries growing 11.7% year-on-year to 1,533 vehicles last month.
  • Sales of general passenger car from manufacturers to dealerships fell 40.4% year-on-year to around 1 million units last month, a quick recovery from an 82% nosedive in February.
  • CPCA maintained its projections on China’s NEV sales at around 1.6 million units in 2020, up 23% from last year. Around 111,000 clean energy vehicles were sold this year as of March.

Context: China last year recorded its first-ever decline on an annual basis in NEV sales to 1.2 million units, as the central government moved to cut subsidies on EV purchases.

  • The total market sales have been falling for nine months since then. Beijing earlier this month announced extension of subsidies and tax breaks for another two years in bid to revive the market.
  • Cui Dongshu, secretary general added the prolonged incentive policies would be a big and long-term boost for the market, offering EVs a price advantage against internal combustion engine vehicles.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen