China EV sales: BYD sets new May record while NIO slips ahead of ET5 Touring launch


Recovering demand in China’s booming EV market led to all major EV builders seeing a rise in sales over the last month. Although NIO was the exception, the EV startup began delivering its second-generation ES6 and is launching a new midsize electric tourer this month.

China’s EV sales rise in May 2023

Last month, the market leader BYD led the rising momentum, with battery electric passenger vehicle (BEV) sales rising by 124% YOY to 119,603 in May, according to data from CnEVPost.

BYD typically reports “new energy vehicle” or NEV sales, which include EVs and PHEVs. The company sold 240,220 NEVs in May, breaking its previous monthly record set in December of 235,200. The BYD Dolphin saw sales rise 377% YOY to 30,679 on higher demand.

XPeng, another leading EV maker in China, delivered 7,506 electric models in May, up 8% from April and 7% from its March sales numbers.

Several EV makers, including BYD, have stopped offering discounts on their models after Tesla’s price cuts sparked a wave of markdowns across China last year. Many buyers holding out for lower prices are now stepping into dealerships realizing the promotions may soon end, according to South China Morning Post.

Although Tesla doesn’t provide a monthly breakdown of sales in China, the China Passenger Car Association estimates the EV maker’s Shanghai gigafactory delivered 75,842 Model 3 and Model Y’s in May.

What happened with NIO

NIO was China’s only major EV maker to see monthly sales decline. The company delivered a total of 6,155 vehicles in May 2023, down nearly 8% from April.

Although NIO’s sales slipped from last month, year-to-date deliveries are up 15.8% to 43,854. More importantly, NIO launched what’s most likely its most important model yet in the new ES6 electric SUV.

The ES6 has been NIO’s top seller since launching, but with NIO focusing on NT 2.0 platform models, the model was due for an upgrade.

NIO launched the second-gen ES6 last week, starting at 368,000 yuan ($52,100) on May 24, with deliveries beginning the next day. According to information from the Chinese consumer behavior research agency, CarFans, the ES6 gathered nearly 30,000 pre-orders in the first three days (6,600 confirmed reservations).

The EV maker is also launching a new NT 2.0 vehicle, the ET5 Touring. The new electric crossover is expected to take on the Tesla Model 3, Porsche Taycan, and upcoming BMW i5.

According to filings with the China copyright authority, the ET5 crossover is 4,790 mm long, 1,960 mm wide, and 1,499 mm tall.

NIO says it also added 10 NIO centers and spaces, 11 NIO service and delivery centers, and 159 charging and battery swap stations this past month as it works to expand its brand beyond China.

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