In China, Small Cheap EVs Could Be The Future – Tesla Model S Likely a Niche EV There


According to several experts in China, Tesla Motors may find it more difficult to sell its Model S there then the automaker believes.

Tesla Website China

Tesla Website China

Tesla has set high sales expectations in China for the Model S, but will the automaker be able to meet those goals?

Yang Yusheng, a batteries expert at Chinese Academy of Engineering, stated:

“Although heavy smog is an issue in many major Chinese cities, and there is a market waiting for solutions, you can’t count on Tesla to make an electric revolution happen.  An electric sedan is not for everyone, not to mention Tesla is a premium brand reserved for high-end customers.”

Yang’s statement came during an electric vehicle forum held in Beijing last month.

As Yang sees it, the Model S will be more a less a niche EV in China.  However, there will be an EV revolution in China soon, says Yang, but that will be jump started by a homegrown maker of low-speed, wallet-friendly EVs.

As China’s ECNS reports:

“Priced at about 30,000 yuan ($4,960), low-speed electric vehicles (including two-wheelers) have a strong presence in China. Experts forecast that more than 300,000 low-speed electric cars were sold in 2013, more than 10 times the total in 2009.”

“China is now home to more than 200 million electric two-wheelers, creating about 100 billion yuan in value.”

The more convincing facts that support the notion that Tesla Model S sales won’t be through the roof come directly from China’s sales figures for new-energy passenger vehicles:

BYD e6 is Relatively Popular in China

BYD e6 is Relatively Popular in China

“China’s sales of new- energy vehicles stood at only 17,642 in 2013, which still represented a rise from the 12,791 sold the previous year. The 2013 numbers included 14,604 electric cars and 3,038 plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

2013 sales figure for the top-selling highway-capable passenger BEVs look like this in China:

  • JAC iEV: ~ 2,500
  • BYD e6: 1,544
  • BAIC E-Series EV: 710
  • Roewe E50: 406
  • Zotye M300 EV: 220
  • Venucia e30: 216
  • BAIC Senova EV: 52

The most successful vehicle for the Chinese market in 2014 is sure to be the 30 mile, PHEV Qin from BYD, that has recently been granted access (along with huge incentives) to both Beijing and Shanghai.  That model has already passed 6,000 units sold already this year.  (that story here)

So, is there a market for the Model S in China?  Sure there is, but will it represent, as Tesla says, 30 to 35% of Tesla sales growth in 2014?

Source: ECNS

Categories: General, Tesla


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15 Comments on "In China, Small Cheap EVs Could Be The Future – Tesla Model S Likely a Niche EV There"

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“Tesla Model S Likely a Niche EV There”

In a market of more than a billion, a niche is probably all Tesla needs to prosper.

By the way, the Model S is a niche vehicle in every market, and their sales targets don’t ask for anything more than that.

And it is the poster child of evs.
Therefore it will contribute to the revolution even without a high market share.

Judging by the sales of luxury vehicles in china, I expect tesla to do well possibly will be the best selling ev for a while.

Reason being the chinese are not too keen on evs except its a status symbol. The current crop of homegrown evs are far from status symbols and are considered overprised despite china having the most generous ev subsidies.

So the way I see chinese ev market going forward is a lot at the lost cost off NEVs and at the hihgend with the Bmw i3 and tesla model S. The middle ground will be scant for years to come.

Of course it will be a niche model… I mean out of the 20 million cars sold the luxury cars are only about 1,5 million.
So since Tesla is cheaper than the Mercedes, Lexuses, BMW’s and Audis in China you wouldn’t expect them to get a lot less customers than those models.
And then not to forget, the EVs are much easier to get license plates to so that you can actually drive your car on the streets.

In this niche market I wouldn’t think Tesla could get more than 50 000-150 000 (3-10% of the luxury market) sales yearly.

But then again… I think Tesla will be quite happy with that niche 😉

Oh… and then with the addition of the Model X they might be able to double those figures.

And then in 2020 they expect the luxury market to be around 3 million cars per year. So than you can double the figures again if they can keep their part of the market.

= 200 000-600 000 Teslas possible sold per year on this niche market… 😉 And that’s not including the enormous Model E market or eventual other models like the Model Y (Model SEXY 😉 ) or maybe the Model T.

Beijing city govt. is set to put strict limits on new licenses for vehicles registered there. Other smog-slathered cities may well follow suit. But…EV’s are exempt from the new regulations, for obvious reasons.

How many luxury car buyers wanting new cars but will be unable to get licenses for Mercedes, BMW, etc., do you think will take a serious look at the Tesla?

They will sell, how well is less important than the introduction of the vehicle, paving the way for the Gen III, which will be the big seller there, as the evolution to electrics begins it’s second act.

Anyone know when the first shipments are supposed to arrive to China? And if there is any news on the fast charging network there?

What happens if Tesla offers the Gen3 in China (or even makes it locally)? Would it still be considered niche?

will gen3 cost around 5000 $ ? Probally not! So Gen3 is still a niche car in china…

Cars don’t cost $5k in China. In the top 10 list of models sold in China most lie around $16k and at least two of the models in the top 10 are around $27k.
The 7th most sold car in China has a price ranging from $27k to $49k depending on many choices of motors and transmissions.

If Tesla could get a $35k car to China (which they surely will not be able to unless they have a factory in China, probably both a car and a battery factory) then they could sell a shit load of cars to the middle class.
And that middle class is increasing everyday. Not only are more people buying cars, they buy more expensive cars… I wonder how many years it will take for 20 million cars a year to turn into 40 million cars a year, my guess is in 2025 or at least before 2030.

Even if China buys the entire Gigafactory-Fremont output of 500,000 cars per year that is only 2.5% of the 20M vehicles sold in China.

What is the big deal about Niche vs. Mainstream? EVs will start at niche and that will be a fine start. It will take decades to build battery plants capable of supplying mainstream EVs.


It’s strange that nobody noticed in the article the fact that in China were sold 300.000 low speed EV in the 2013. These are real small cars with max speed of 60 km/h that has found solid market in the 3 province where they are allowed to circulate. It’s for me inexplicable that these green and often nice minicar are not allowed to circulate in other province of China. This country need affordable and simple technology EV. With the new lithium battery already in the market beside the low cost also could be soon coming the long range, as here the a good lithium battery pack can be purchased at 150 USD for 1 kw/h.
I think that this will be the real revolution : long range and low costEVs.
Tesla is a great EV but it will be a niche in the chinese EV market.

Or that they have more than 200 million EV’s on their roads… 😛

What’s the average number of persons in the car in the US? I want to say 1,6 but that might just be the average number of kids born in Europe.

Anyway… it’s still comparable to more than 100 million electric cars when you look at the people being transported.

I don’t think that anyone is disputing China as being the world leader in EV’s and being it by an enormous margin…

A ASP 100k Model S will be a niche vehicle in a country with a GDP per capita of $6k?

No kidding. Outside of Norway with a GDP per capita of over $100k the Model S will be a niche vehicle everywhere.

That is what it was meant to be.

The half price Model E will be at the upper price range of the mass market in fully developed countries.