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1H 2023 Summary: Light-duty commercial vehicles lead growth of China’s new energy commercial vehicle market

Commercial Vehicles

July 2023

Yvonne Zhang

Research Associate

Yvonne joined Interact Analysis as a Research Associate to assist the research team with organizing, interpreting findings, and enhancing product outputs. She has a master's degree in Finance and has research experience in the Industrial Automation sector after her studies in the United States.

New Energy Commercial Vehicle Sales Continue to Grow

Driven by factors such as policies, application scenarios and business models, China’s new energy commercial vehicle market has shown strong and continuous growth. In the first half of 2023, cumulative sales surpassed 104,000 units, representing a year-on-year increase of 57%. At the same time, the overall commercial vehicle market rebounded, with sales rising by 8% to reach 1.4 million units compared with the same period last year. The market penetration rate of new energy commercial vehicles overall has risen to 7.2%, a year-on-year increase of 2 percentage points. During the first half of this year, the market penetration rates for new energy trucks and buses stood at 3.5% and 34% respectively.

New energy bus and truck sales continued to climb during the first half of this year

Light-duty Commercial Vehicles Leading the Market

In the first half of 2023, cumulative sales of new energy buses exceeded 59,000 units, accounting for 57% of overall sales of new energy commercial vehicles and surpassing trucks for the 13th consecutive month. Cumulative sales of new energy trucks reached 44,000 units during the same period.

Strong growth during 1H 2023 in light-duty trucks and small-sized buses

Trucks: Light-duty trucks (mini trucks and light-duty trucks) experienced rapid growth. Light-duty trucks were the main vehicle type among new energy trucks, with cumulative sales of over 30,000 units in the first half of the year. Sales of light-duty trucks were up by 45% year-on-year, occupying 69% of the overall sales of new energy trucks and increasing by three percentage points compared with the same period last year. Sales of mini trucks were relatively small in volume but had the highest growth rate, with a 46-fold increase year-on-year and sales of nearly 1,800 units, all of which were battery electric logistics vehicles. In addition, sales of new energy heavy-duty trucks increased by 14% to 11,000 units, largely as the result of demand for towing vehicles and concrete mixer trucks. Sales of new energy medium-duty trucks reached 719 units, up 12% year-on-year, primarily driven by battery electric sanitation vehicles.

Buses: Strong Growth in Small-sized Buses, Weak Demand for Large- and Medium-sized Buses. From January to June, cumulative sales of small-sized buses exceeded 50,000 units, up by 131% year-on-year and accounting for 85% of overall sales of new energy buses, with purchases mainly for urban public transportation purposes.
The market for new energy large- and medium-sized buses, on the other hand, has been relatively sluggish. Cumulative sales of large-sized buses saw a year-on-year decline of 31% to 5,093 units, accounting for a 9% share of total sales and down by 13 percentage points from the same period last year. Cumulative sales of medium-sized buses reached 3,711 units, dropping by 30% year-on-year.

Battery Electric Vehicles Serve as the Mainstay, Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales Double

In the first six months, sales of all types of new energy commercial vehicles have steadily increased, with fuel cell vehicles exhibiting the fastest growth. Fuel cell commercial vehicles saw a year-on-year increase of 102% to reach 2,085 units, of which fuel cell trucks were 1,500 units. This was up by 111% year-on-year, with sales primarily dominated by heavy-duty trucks (fuel cell towing vehicles and dump trucks comprising around 70%). Fuel cell buses achieved cumulative sales of 585 units, up by 84% year-on-year and mainly concentrated in large-sized urban buses. With the promotion and influence of fuel cell demonstration city clusters, fuel cell commercial vehicle sales reached their highest level in the first half of this year in Beijing, Guangdong, Henan, and Shanghai, with 450 units, 249 units, 196 units, and 168 units sold, respectively.

Battery electric vehicles maintained their dominant position in the new energy commercial vehicle market, with nearly 100,000 units sold in the first half of the year. This was an increase of 57% year-on-year, accounting for 96% of the total sales and primarily consisting of small-sized buses and trucks. Additionally, hybrid commercial vehicle sales increased by 23% year-on-year to reach 2,212 units, primarily comprising light-duty logistics vehicles and large-sized city buses.

Battery electric continued to be the dominant powertrain for new energy bus and truck sales

Market Concentration Increases, Geely Holds Top Position

From January to June 2023, over 150 OEMs registered sales of new energy buses and trucks, with the top 10 OEMs accounting for around 72% of total units sold, up by 9.8 percentage points compared with last year.

Due to the varying market performance of different vehicle models, there have been significant changes in the rankings of the top ten manufacturers. Geely further increased its market share from 11% in the same period of last year to 26%, with sales doubling to 26,000 units year on year, maintaining its position as the top seller for 14 consecutive months. Chang’an Auto, Seres, and New Gonow, which did not make it into the top ten in the first half of 2022, benefited from strong sales of light-duty commercial vehicles to rank fourth, fifth, and ninth, respectively. SAIC Motor, Dongfeng, and King Long Motor, on the other hand, experienced drops in their rankings primarily due to lower sales of their light-duty commercial vehicles compared with the same period last year. As a result of declining sales of large- and medium-sized buses and trucks, Zhengzhou Yutong’s ranking dropped from third place to eighth, while Guangxi Auto, Brilliance Shineray and BYD all fell out of the top 10 rankings.

Geely held its top position, while Chang’an Auto, Seres, and New Gonow all entered the top ten

With Continuous Growth of Powertrain Components Supporting the Market, Competition Becomes Increasingly Fierce

In the first six months of this year, battery installation totaled 9.2 GWh, up by 14% year-on-year. By vehicle type, the installation volume of batteries in new energy trucks has been higher than in new energy buses for six consecutive months due to the high battery capacity per unit in each vehicle. In the first half of 2023, new energy trucks accounted for 57% of the total cumulative installations. Over 60 vendors saw their batteries installed, and the top 10 companies accounted for 94% of total installations, down by 3.1 percentage points year-on-year. CATL, the no.1 vendor, saw a 6% year-on-year increase in total battery installations, with its market share declining from 71% during the same period last year to 66%.

In the first half of 2023, total installation of drive motors in new energy commercial vehicles surpassed 104,000 units, showing a year-on-year increase of 56%, and motor installation in new energy buses accounted for 57% of the total. More than 110 companies saw their motors installed, with the top 10 companies together accounting for 68% of total units sold, up by 9 percentage points year-on-year. Inovance ranked first with a market share of nearly 20% of the total.

In the first six months, a total of 2,085 fuel cell systems, or 203MW, were installed in buses and trucks, an increase of 102% and 109% year-on-year, respectively. In total 45 companies supplied fuel cell systems for buses and trucks, an increase of 20 companies compared with the same period last year. Sinosynergy ranked first, accounting for 15% of total installations and 16% of total installed power, mainly by supplying fuel cells for Feichi Auto’s large-sized vehicles.

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