BYD took control of the 2023 Chinese EV market

22 February 2024

Electric vehicles (EVs) made up 37% of China’s new-car market in 2023, with BYD and Tesla leading the way. José Pontes, data director at, unpacks the results.

The electrification of China’s new-car market has picked up in recent years. Combined registrations of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meant the EV market represented 6.3% of deliveries at the end of 2020. BEVs alone accounted for 5.1% of the overall figures.

In 2021 this market share grew to 15% for EVs overall and 12% for BEVs specifically. Across 2022, plug-in models accounted for 30% of deliveries in the country, with all-electric vehicles taking a 22% share. By the end of 2023, the EV share had climbed to 37%, with BEVs generating 25% of overall registrations.

So, while electrification in China has improved, the rate of adoption has slowed over the course of the last three years. However, the world’s largest automotive market can still be expected to reach an EV share of 50% by 2026. By this point, BEVs will make up over a third of the new-car market.

BYD Song tops the chart

The BYD Song was the best-selling EV in China last year, repeating its 2022 success. The model finished 2023 more than 100,000 units ahead of the second-place Tesla Model Y. The US crossover surpassed the BYD Qin Plus at the very end of last year.

However, BYD placed five models within the top six positions of the 2023 chart, while also leading every size category.

The BYD Seagull managed to overtake the Wuling Mini EV in the A-segment. The carmaker’s Dolphin model led the B-segment and its Yuan Plus claimed the C-segment. Lastly, the Song secured the D-segment, and the Han took the E-segment. BYD can be expected to top a lot of categories again this year, however, it will face more competition.

The Li Auto L7 and Aito M7 will likely overtake the BYD Han in the E-segment. In the D-segment, the Tesla Model Y will look to state its claim to the title, as BYD’s models compete against each other in the popular category.

This story is likely to be repeated in the C-segment, with the GAC Aion Y competing with the BYD Yuan (Plus and Up). In the B-segment, the Wuling Bingo could become a fiercer contender for the title.

Comparing the 2023 table with the previous year, the Wuling Mini EV dropped five places to seventh due to increasing competition. The ageing BYD Tang also dropped from eighth in 2022 to 13th.

Noticeably, several small EVs were pushed out of the table this year, such as the Changan Benni EV, the Chery eQ1, and QQ Ice Cream. While Changan could rely on the 14th-place Lumin, Chery lost its two spots without any replacements.

Third title for BYD brand

BYD claimed its third brand title in a row last year, with a 33.8% market share. Since it started making plug-in models in 2008, the carmaker has always made it to one of the two top spots in China’s brand table. This highlights its importance to the electrification of the market.

Meanwhile, Tesla took second place in 2023 with a 7.5% share. This marks a step up for the company following three years of third-place finishes.

Thanks to the success of its Aion S and Y models, GAC Aion secured a top-three spot for the first time last year, coming in third with a 6% market share. This is a positive result for the brand after coming fourth in 2022 thanks to a 4.6% share.

Despite the success of its Wuling Bingo, SGMW experienced a significant loss of volume in 2023, as the Wuling Mini EV dropped by about 200,000 units. The brand ended the year with a 5.8% share, contrasting with the 8% it had in 2022.

Li Auto came fifth with a 4.7% share, replacing Changan with 4.3%. However, the latter still managed to finish in sixth while increasing its market share from 3% in 2022. Geely once again took seventh, but made up 4.1% of the market, up from 3.7% at the end of 2022.

Demand set to drop?

With brands organised under automotive groups, BYD was once again the big winner in China with a market share of 35.5% in 2023. Having taken last year’s title, this is likely to be a repeating trend in the coming years.

However, having also claimed first place in the wider overall market, the OEM is starting to near its demand ceiling, leaving little room for growth in China.

In second, SAIC claimed a 7.5% share. The carmaker claimed this spot in the last month of 2023, managing to push ahead of Tesla by just 518 units. In fourth, Geely–Volvo appears set to keep growing. The company ended 2023 with a market share of 7.1%, a significant increase on 5.7% in 2022.

GAC secured fifth, progressing from a 4.9% share in 2022 to 6.5% last year. Changan climbed up a position from 2022, as its market share grew from 4% to 4.8% last year.

Record end to a record year

EVs finished 2023 with another record month. Registrations of plug-in models grew 46% year on year, reaching a record 980,737 units. BEVs (up 31%) saw slower growth than PHEVs in the month (up 81%).

Yet all-electric models accounted for 63% of the EV market in December, but this was below 2023’s BEV 66% average. This was far below the 74% recorded at the end of 2022.

The up-swing in PHEV popularity can be explained by the increasing availability of range-extended models in China. Most of these models feature a battery with around a 40kWh capacity and fast-charging capabilities.

BYD Song dominates in December

The BYD Song continued its run of record-breaking success in December. Out of its 72,182 total deliveries, its BEV version reached a new best of 14,011 units. This highlights how production is leaning further towards the all-electric powertrain.

This could mark the current generation’s peak. The Song was the best-selling model in December’s overall new-car market in China, but there will be increasing competition moving forward. A large portion of this will come from inside BYD, in the shape of the new Song L and the Sea Lion.

In second place, the Tesla Model Y achieved 60,055 registrations in December, a new record. This is impressive considering the increasing amount of competition in the market, including internally from the refreshed Model 3.

As the standard BYD Song gets cannibalised by its siblings, Tesla Model Y can be expected to regularly feature in first this year, even if its sales do not grow significantly.

The BYD Qin Plus ended December in third with 41,142 deliveries. The midsize model is likely to keep competing for a place in the top five throughout 2024, at least until the new Qin L arrives sometime in the near future.

Thanks to constant updates, the Qin Plus is leading the midsize-sedan category, well ahead of the GAC Aion S and the Tesla Model 3.

With 41,012 registrations, the BYD Seagull came fourth. However, this was not a new best for the model, ending a record-breaking streak and suggesting a slowing of deliveries. With exports expected to start soon, the city-car could see greater success in overseas markets where demand for small and affordable BEVs is high.

The BYD Yuan Plus came fifth in December with 30,799 registrations. While the model did well across 2023, a top-five finish might be difficult to replicate this year. Some of its volume will likely be consumed by the cheaper Yuan Up, due to land in the first half of 2024. However, export markets are now the target for the Yuan Plus, especially in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Li Auto’s record results

Having created a niche within the Chinese market, the Wuling Bingo came sixth in December and could enter the top five soon. The eighth-place Aito M7 (25,545 units) also deserves a mention, with the model continuing to accelerate production.

Highlighting a positive month for Wuling HongGuang, its Mini EV ended the month in ninth with 25,015 registrations, a year best.

All three of Li Auto’s models saw record numbers in December. In 11th, the L7 recorded 20,428 registrations, while the L8 marked 15,013 units. Just below, the flagship L9 posted 14,913 deliveries. This means the carmaker hit over 50,000 units in the month while only being present in the full-size segment.

Elsewhere, the Volkswagen (VW) ID.3 kept rising, reaching a best-ever 13,201 sales. This allowed it to reach 17th place.

Outside the top 20

The refreshed Buick Velite 6, a compact estate car, scored a record 8,614 deliveries in December. Meanwhile, the VW ID.4 registered a year-best result of 8,130 units. Add this to the ID.3’s record performance and the German carmaker seems to be enjoying some success in its largest market.

Geely celebrated the Lynk & Co 08 crossing the 10,000-unit delivery mark for the first time. The model passed this milestone after only four months on the market.

Changan posted good results across its line-up. This included 12,480 registrations for the Lumin and 6,978 units of the SL03. However, the highlight was the S7, which recorded 11,360 deliveries. This included 3,250 BEV registrations, a new record for the model.

BYD hailed the first full sales month of its new upmarket brands, Fangchengbao and Yangwang. Their respective first models, the Bao 5 and the U8, hit 4,388 and 1,593 units each. These new brands can be expected to improve the OEM’s profit margins, which could act as a reserve in the country’s price wars.

While SAIC enjoyed good results with the Wuling Bingo and the Mini EV, the brand’s new model, the Starlight, was a particular cause for celebration. The model reached 11,453 units in December, its third month on the market.

Elsewhere in the SAIC stable, the Roewe D7 was also on the rise, taking 7,285 registrations. Meanwhile, the IM LS6 SUV hit 9,878 deliveries in only its fourth month on the market. However, it seems the model’s demand ceiling has already been hit.

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