VW and GM surprise with big increases in NEV sales

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Conventional wisdom says that legacy makers with their joint ventures in China have had it and are rapidly loosing market share to dynamic Chinese companies with more compelling new energy vehicle offerings. Wang Chuanfu, the CEO of BYD, has gone as far as saying that he expects their share of the Chinese market to fall to around 10%, the current figure is around 45%. What if this is all wrong?

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April sales figures from SAIC’s joint venture partners Volkswagen and General Motors suggest that it may be too soon to write the eulogy for legacy producers. For SAIC-GM sales of NEVs across the Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet brands were 8,762 cars a year-on-year increase of 93.1%. Although Shanghai Volkswagen haven’t announced an exact figure the company says they sold more than 10,000 cars in the ID. range in April, an increase YOY of 56%. This matches the over 10,000 achieved in March. In the first quarter of 2024 overall sales for the Shanghai Volkswagen JV increased by 11.4% YOY. Such results contrast sharply with the 8% decline in sales for the JV last year, GM did even worse in 2023 falling by 14.5%

To put these figures more in context Nio sold 15,620 while XPeng managed 9,393. These numbers were up 134.6% and 32.7% respectively YOY. Furthermore, the Shanghai Volkswagen total is only for the ID. range and doesn’t include other NEVs, mainly PHEV versions of the regular range.

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The immediate prospects for NEV sales by both the SAIC joint ventures seem promising. General Motors showed the new Cadillac Optiq EV at the Beijing Auto Show. The new all-electric SUV on the Ultium platform will sell for 239,700-269,700 yuan (33,100-37,250 USD). Also shown at the show were two promising EV concepts from Buick which will likely result in production models within the next year. More immediate though was the opening of sales for the PHEV version of the GL8 MPV. Once the best-selling MPV in China the GL8 has in recent years been hampered by the lack of any PHEV or all electric version and has seen sales slip away to competitors that offer such choices. Within 72 hours of the opening of sales the new GL8 PHEV had secured 10,017 orders. And Buick plans to launch an all-electric version of the GL8 in the future.

The situation with Volkswagen is more complex due to the company having the ID. series currently shared between the SAIC and FAW joint ventures. This is set to become even more complicated with the EV offerings from Volkswagen Anhui. There are however a number of new EV offerings that will be offered, first off versions of the ID.7 from both JV partners. These will be joined by cars like the ID.UNYX, a production version of the ID.CODE along with the cars resulting from the VW and XPeng collaboration.

If there is one thing that this year’s Beijing Auto Show teaches us it is that the legacy producers are realizing that they need to offer more in the way of EVs in China. This was evidenced by the two new Toyota EVs, the Mazda EZ-6, and the new Honda offerings of the Ye and Lingxi L. So while yes the joint ventures are struggling they are not willing to completely capitulate in China and are finding new ways of making the market work, even if as in the case of Kia it is just as largely an export production base.  

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Sources: Autohome

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  1. The sales come at the cost of brand prestige. Now everyone naturally expect VW and Audi EVs to sell at 30% off. Even the ID.7 could have a chance in China, as long as the discount is hefty enough…


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