Electric car sales soar in China before incentive phase-out, overall car sales slump

Electric vehicle sales are skyrocketing in China before the country phases out incentives. Meanwhile, overall passenger car sales continue to go in the opposite direction.

Deliveries of electric cars in January 2019 more than doubled year-over-year in China, with 85,000 units delivered last month. In the same time frame, total car sales decreased 18 percent compared to last January. The numbers come from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, as reported by Bloomberg.

The numbers don’t differentiate between types of electric vehicles, which China refers to as “new-energy vehicles.” For instance, the report doesn’t list how many of the deliveries were all-electric compared to plug-in hybrids.

A report from Nikkei Asian Review last year noted the Chinese government was expected to completely end EV subsidies by 2020, and reduce them “by about a third” in 2019.

However, Bloomberg notes that China has “yet to unveil a new subsidy plan for 2019 that would cut the discounts.” So it seems customers are getting in while they still can — for up to 75,000 yuan ($11,130) in some cases for EVs.

As long as things remain the same, electric vehicle sales should remain strong. Last year, China updated its incentives to favor longer range electric cars, and the country has lofty long term goals for EV adoption.

EV Moves

Tesla recently launched the Model 3 in China. Shortly after, the company made Autopilot a standard feature on the Model 3 in the country, reducing the overall price.

As we noted then, Tesla wants to sell as many Model 3s as possible this quarter in China before a temporary relief on the import tariff ends in April. In the long term, Tesla is already constructing its Gigafactory 3 for its future vehicle sales to Chinese customers.

Chinese EVs will also be coming back in the other direction sometime in the future. China’s Kandi received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to import and register its Model EX3 and Model K22 electric cars in the U.S. The company said it will “begin the process of launching the Model EX3 and Model K22 for the American market.”

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