TrendForce’s latest research finds that global sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), which encompass battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs), rose by 70% YoY to 2.87 million units for 3Q22. Of the quarterly total, BEV sales accounted for 2.147 million units and registered a YoY growth of 75%, whereas PHEV sales accounted for 714,000 units and registered a YoY growth of 57%.
Tesla placed at the first place in 3Q22 BEV market, BYD is the biggest threat
In the global ranking of BEV brands by vehicle sales for 3Q22, Tesla took first place with 344,000 units. While Tesla managed to maintain its market share at 16%, its lead over second-placed BYD in sales figure had narrowed further. BYD sold 259,000 BEVs in 3Q22, posting a massive YoY growth of 182%. It is also worth noting that the gap between Tesla and BYD in BEV sales has been smaller than 100,000 units for two quarters straight. SGMW and Volkswagen respectively stayed at third and fourth in the ranking, showing no change from the previous quarter. As for fifth to 10th, TrendForce especially points out that these places were all taken by Chinese brands. Looking at the global top 10 BEV brands for 3Q22, MG Motor (that has been acquired by SAIC Motor) and Geometry entered this group for the first time mainly thanks to the robust demand from China. Conversely, Hyundai, Kia, and XPeng Motors were pushed out of the top 10. XPeng stated that the deliveries of its new electric SUV G9 would ramp up this October. Whether XPeng will remain in the group of top 10 for 2022 depends on its performance in the fourth quarter.
Huawei’s big plan in the automotive market: the rise of Chinese brand “AITO”
Turning to the global ranking of PHEV brands by vehicle sales for 3Q22, BYD was at the top with 279,000 units and held a market share of 39.1%. As for other PHEV brands, they still were unable to raise their market shares above 10% even though they posted a QoQ increase in vehicle sales. Looking at the two German luxury car brands that are involved in the PHEV segment, Mercedes-Benz rose to second place in the ranking because of a QoQ gain for vehicle sales in both the home market and China. BMW saw falling sales for its PHEVs in Europe, so it posted a decline in units and slipped down in the the ranking. Chinese brand AITO entered the group of the global top 10 PHEV brands for the first time in 3Q22 and was immediately placed fifth. AITO is a brand under Seres and is in close cooperation with Huawei, and its vehicle models feature many technologies from Huawei as well. Going forward, the market performances of AITO’s vehicles will actually be an important indicator of Huawei’s progress in the development of an automotive business.
Moving into 4Q22, TrendForce believes that autumn releases of new vehicle models and year-end promotional activities will be the main drivers of car sales worldwide. Consumers have been waiting for new vehicle models or new generations of the existing vehicle models. This is one of the reasons why some carmakers saw declining vehicle sales in 3Q22. Therefore, these same carmakers could still get a boost in annual vehicle sales from their performances in the fourth quarter. As for the Chinese NEV market, it will stay fairly hot in 4Q22 as car brands operating there continue to provide incentives for vehicle purchases. Furthermore, Chinese consumers still want to take advantage of their government’s NEV subsidy program before its termination.
Foxconn (Hong Hai Precision Industry) and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) have agreed to jointly establish an electric vehicle (EV) brand named Ceer. PIF is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and Ceer will operate as a joint venture of the two parties. As the country’s first EV brand, Ceer will target not only the home market but also the wider regional markets of the Middle East and North Africa.
Saudi Arabia represents largest car market in the Middle East. The country’s new car sales totaled 580,000 vehicle units for 2021. This year, however, has seen a decline with the figure for the first three quarters coming to 290,000. Until now, Saudi Arabia has no home-grown car brand, and there is no carmaker indigenous to the Middle East. Presently, Toyota and Hyundai are the two main automotive groups operating in Saudi Arabia. The former’s and latter’s market shares in the country come to 34% and 18% respectively. Also, since Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s major oil producers and has kept gas prices low for its citizens, the conditions of its car market give an absolute advantage to vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Up to recently, Saudis have had no real incentives to invest in the development of electric cars and the build-out of the supporting infrastructure. In terms of “green” offerings, the Saudi car market so far has only received hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) from a few automotive brands (i.e., Toyota, Lexus, and Hyundai). Among countries in the Middle East, Israel is currently the leader with respect to EV availability.
Even though Saudi Arabia continues to build its wealth primarily through the exportation oil, it is now driven by government policies and the momentum of reform to develop a domestic EV industry. For instance, the Saudi government is promoting electrification for at least 30% of the vehicles operating in the country’s capital Riyadh by 2030. However, this target is not mandatory. Turning to the creation of a home-grown EV brand, this joint venture with Foxconn is also among a series of actions taken by the Saudi government to reduce carbon emissions, adopt green energy, and reform the country’s economy. More measures need to be implemented to support the growth of a domestic EV industry. After all, the Saudi Energy Ministry just completed the regulatory framework for EV charging stations this August.
Among EV brands and startups, the most noticeable ones tend to come from the US and China because these two countries are the world’s major car markets and possess enormous domestic demand. On the other hand, opportunities are also brewing for new entrants in the emerging markets that are promoting vehicle electrification. The UAE, for example, has a local EV startup named Al Damani that begun small-scale production this June. TOGG, which is another newly formed company, commenced production on Turkey’s first EV this October.
Commenting on the formation of Ceer, TrendForce said it is very difficult for EV startups to grow their businesses especially if they are operating in countries without an existing automotive industry. Usually, these new companies will have to poach talents from the more established automotive companies and obtain licenses for certain key technologies. Ultimately, they will have to draw enough support from the automotive supply chain in order to have a chance to push their vehicles to the mass production stage. Additionally, while dealing with the complexity of vehicle assembly, startups will have to quickly scale up production in order to control their costs. All of these challenges have to be overcome by rising EV manufacturers that are located in emerging markets.
Due to the implementation of lockdowns and dynamic zero-COVID in Shanghai and other locations in China, a large number of automotive supply chain manufacturers have been idle since March and the implementation of passive measures in many locales has led to a decline in both production and sales. A large number of automotive companies are clustered in Shanghai and it is the hub of the entire Chinese automotive industry. Many foreign automotive companies, Tier 1 suppliers, important parts and components headquarters, production bases, and distribution centers are located here, such as Tesla’s Shanghai plant.
This also includes an important state-owned automotive company, SAIC Motor and all its subsidiary automotive factories and wide network of suppliers. The total production capacity of Shanghai and Jilin accounts for approximately 20% of the whole of China. The production volume of major automakers in Shanghai in April 2022 will drop by 75% compared with March, while the production volume of major joint venture automakers in Changchun (Jilin Province) will drop by 54%. The drops in these two regions were sharper than the 38% decline in China as a whole. Recently, several districts in Beijing have been locked down. The impact of this on sales depends on the duration of lockdown. BAIC Motor, Beijing Benz, and Beijing Hyundai are located in Beijing and these companies will bear the brunt of these lockdowns if they are required to suspend operations.
Further discussing the three major effects of this wave of lockdowns, first, the lockdowns will disrupt the pace of new car launches in spring. Second, the export plans of automotive companies will be impeded, which will slow the expansion of Chinese car companies into overseas markets. Third, there is a risk of stagnant demand. The stagnation of demand can be viewed from several perspectives.
First, is the closure of traditional distribution channel car dealerships due to the decrease in orders. According to China Automobile Dealers Association statistics, more than 20% of automobile dealers in China have closed down, which hinders the car purchase process. In addition, since automobile pricing continues to rise due to a number of environmental factors, if delivery is continuously delayed or the acceptance of car orders is suspended, there is a risk of consumption shrinking as time goes on. Third, the negative impact of lockdowns on economic activities, employment, and salary income, coupled with global inflation, will bring uncertainty to demand in China’s automotive market in the second half of 2022.
The global auto market is experiencing a very unstable period. The lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the persisting shortage of semiconductor chips, and the Ukrainian-Russian war has caused chaos in the supply chain in Europe and other regions and it seems the war will last longer than expected. Many automotive plants are still unable to operate smoothly. Facing sustained production reduction or the transfer of production capacity, coupled with China’s lockdown and zero-COVID policies which began in March, global car sales in 1Q22 amounted to only 19.6 million units, down 7% from the same period in 2021.
Although the auto industry accounts for the majority of the work resumption whitelist announced by Shanghai in April, restoring production capacity is expected to take some time as manpower and transportation capacity are still limited and sales may still decline or remain low. Therefore, after taking into account the regional consideration of the Chinese market in 2Q22, sales volume is expected to be 17.7 million units and annual sales volume is revised downward to 80 million units, an annual decline of 1.3%. This forecast is based on the assumption of a supply turnaround leading to rebounding sales in the second half of 2022, so changes in various environmental factors will strongly affect the revision of future expectations.
According to TrendForce data, total sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles) in 1Q22 was 2.004 million units, an annual growth rate of 80%. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) demonstrated the strongest growth with sales reaching 1.508 million units. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sold 493,000 units. Growth in NEV sales did not come easy, as global auto market sales (regardless of powertrain type) fell by 7% YoY in 1Q22 due to factors such as the chip shortage, Russian-Ukrainian war, and China’s pandemic lockdown and prevention measures.
In terms of BEV brands, Tesla’s sales in 1Q22 exceeded 310,000 units, ranking first with a market share of 20.5%. Chinese automaker BYD ranked second with 143,000 units and a market share of 9.5%. BYD announced in April that it would stop producing fossil-fueled vehicles and transform fully into a NEV manufacturer. Its BEV sales rose sharply by 271% in 1Q22 compared to the same period last year. Wuling, a subsidiary of SAIC-GM, has been ranked second since the launch of the Wuling Hongguang MINI in 2020 but dropped to third place in 1Q22. The main contributor to this was the multitude of models positioned as miniature and low-priced launched in the past year such as the Chery Ant and Changan Benben. As similar products arrived on the market, sales competition hindered growth.
In terms of PHEVs, BYD once again broke its quarterly sales record. Sales volume in 1Q22 reached 142,000 units, with a market share of 28.8%. As more PHEV models gradually appear in the market, it has become increasingly more difficult to capture a large market share. It is worth noting that the sales volume of PHEVs in the European market was lower in 1Q22 both when compared with the same period last year and when compared to 4Q21, affected the performance of some European brands.
TrendForce expects that most automakers will adopt a strategy of prioritizing the production of EVs. Therefore, continued growth in the sale of NEVs is expected in 2022. However, automakers will be under greater cost pressure this year. In particular, the Russian-Ukrainian war has greatly increased the cost of power batteries. This has caused automakers to increase their prices. Some countries including China will withdraw car purchase subsidies which dampens the market for low-priced mini-cars that previously supported the rapid growth of NEVs. Factors such as global inflation will become variables in the future growth momentum of NEVs.
As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles（NEV, which includes BEV/PHEV/FCV）are continuing to rise as well. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.
Due to the vast scale of the Chinese market, as well as domestic policies favorable for the growth of BEV/PHEV/FCV, various NEV brands have quickly emerged in China in recent years, such as BYD Auto, Aion（formerly GAC NE）, and BAIC BJEV. At the market’s peak, NEV manufacturers in China once numbered in the hundreds, although that number has since dwindled somewhat, as the intense competition resulted in declining sales and market shares for many automakers, including BAIC and JAC.
Four rising stars among emerging NEV manufacturers in China include NIO, XPeng, Lixian（or Li Auto）, and Weltmeister, all of which have been shipping tens of thousands of mass production vehicles each year. In particular, while NIO, XPeng, and Lixiang registered significant growths in the past few years, Weltmeister also ranked number two in terms of sales in 2019, though it fell to fourth place in 2020 as it delivered fewer vehicles compared to the top three competitors last year.
In light of the aforementioned four automakers’ current expansions, TrendForce has summarized several key aspects of their growths, including the following:
1. Autonomous Driving Technologies: Autonomous driving is not only part and parcel of these automakers’ core competencies but also a reflection of what consumers and investors expect of the automotive industry. In pursuing advanced autonomous driving technologies, the four automakers have been adopting increasingly powerful processors and computing platforms, with Nvidia being the most common partner among emerging NEV manufacturers. Remarkably, XPeng stands out as the only player making a noticeable effort to develop in-house chips.
2. LiDAR: LiDAR is integrated into an increasing number of vehicles in response to the growing demand for advanced self-driving functionalities. Although LiDAR remains out of reach for vehicles in certain price segments, autonomous driving sensors including LiDAR are no longer limited to flagship models since new NEV models’ E/E architectures are expected to be compatible with OTA updates.
LiDAR sensor demand from NEV manufacturers has significantly increased because only by pre-installing hardware ahead of time in their vehicles can automakers enable autonomous driving functionalities as a paid subscription service through OTA updates later on.
3. Battery-swapping: Battery-swapping are relatively attractive for the Chinese NEV industry for several reasons: First, battery-swappable vehicles are excluded from China’s NEV subsidy limits*; second, automakers can now afford to lower the retail price of vehicles by turning batteries into a subscription service; finally, it’s much convenience for driver because battery swapping is faster than battery charging.
For instance, NIO’s entire NEV lineup is compatible with both battery charging and battery swapping. NIO has been pushing its BaaS（battery as a service）and second-gen battery swap stations since 2020. On the other hand, Weltmeister and XPeng are also making their respective battery-swapping strategies.
4. Capacity Expansion and Overseas Strategies: The aforementioned four automakers all place a heavy emphasis on both expanding their production capacities and growing their overseas market shares. Their capacity expansion efforts include building in-house production lines, acquiring other facilities, or jointly funding automotive production with OEMs/ODMs. Regarding overseas expansion, their primary destination is the European market, which is relatively favorable to NEVs.
For instance, NIO and XPeng choose Norway as their first target market in Europe. However, while the European automotive market is conducive to the growth of NEVs in terms of both policies and cultures, competition among automakers is also correspondingly intense. In addition, most European countries prefer either domestic brands or other European brands. Therefore, Chinese automakers must prioritize gaining consumer trust via establishing a trustworthy brand image.
*China’s subsidies for NEV purchases are restricted to NEVs with a retail price of CN¥300,000 and under. However, NEVs with swappable batteries do not fall under this restriction.