Global EV shipments surge 79% in Q1 with Tesla in the driving seat

The EV market has been steadily recovering, withstanding the negative effects of Covid-19 and semiconductor shortage

Tesla's Model Y sport utility vehicle was the top-selling EV in the first quarter of 2022, with an 8.5 per cent market share, a study by Counterpoint Research has found. Reuters
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Global shipments of electric vehicles rose an annual 79 per cent to about 1.95 million units in the first quarter of 2022, with Tesla continuing to dominate the market, a study by Counterpoint Research has shown.

China emerged as a crucial market for the EV industry both from a consumer and manufacturing standpoint, with EV shipments in the world's second-biggest economy leaping 126 per cent to more than 1.14 million in the three-month period ending March 31.

The opening of Tesla's Gigafactory in Shanghai helped the company significantly boost its deliveries in the country, Hong Kong-based Counterpoint said.

Shipments of Tesla, the world's biggest EV maker, rose 68 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, outselling the combined sales of Wuling Hongguan, BMW and Volkswagen in the battery EV segment. The Texas-based EV manufacturer had a 16.7 per cent market share in the period, almost double of China's Wuling Hongguan, which was second with 8.9 per cent.

Tesla reported earlier this month that its deliveries fell for the first time in two years after a Covid-19-related shutdown at its Shanghai factory affected production.

The global EV market was able to withstand the negative effects of the pandemic and the semiconductor shortage, both of which disrupted supply chains. Its recovery presents a growth opportunity for existing players and an opening for new ones, said Soumen Mandal, senior research analyst at Counterpoint.

"The EV market is witnessing a boom ... fresh players are entering the market to benefit from the opportunity. To counter new entrants, existing players are using leading-edge technologies to have improved battery, superior IVI [in-vehicle infotainment] system and higher levels of Adas [advanced driver assistance systems] in their EV models as major selling points," he said.

Shipments would have been higher if the automotive supply chain was not affected by Russia's military offensive in Ukraine and fresh Covid-19 waves that beset China in March, Mr Mandal added.

The global EV market continues to grow as more countries aim to phase out petrol-powered vehicles to adhere to environmental standards and achieve net-zero goals.

EV sales doubled in 2021 from the previous year, to a record 6.6 million, with nearly 10 per cent of global car sales being electric last year, four times the market share in 2019, the International Energy Agency said.

In June, EV sales in China increased 133 per cent annually to about 596,000, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said this week. That brought total sales to about 2.51 million in the first half of 2022, up nearly 130 per cent year-on-year, research firm Rystad Energy noted.

Other manufacturers are also leveraging new battery technology to challenge market leaders Tesla and General Motors.

South Korea's Hyundai this week introduced the Ioniq 6, a sedan version of its cult EV, which can travel up to 610km on a single charge of its 77.4 kilowatt-hour battery, compared to its predecessor's 429km range.

BYD Auto was China's top EV seller in the first quarter, with sales surging more than five-fold to about 280,000 units, the Counterpoint study showed. This was driven by the Shenzhen-based company's decision to completely stop its internal combustion engine business and focus on battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

The market share of Wuling Hongguan, the joint venture between China's Saic and Wuling, and Detroit-based General Motors, grew 14 per cent, posting high EV shipments by just operating across China and Indonesia.

Expanding across South-East Asian nations will help to grow the company's business, Counterpoint said.

German majors BMW and Volkswagen ranked third and fourth, respectively. BMW’s 16 per cent annual growth is mostly due to its new PHEV models, while Volkswagen — its efforts to compete with Tesla in Europe stymied by the Russia-Ukraine conflict's effect on supply chains — increased its shipments by 25 per cent year-on-year.

Tesla's Model Y and Model 3 were the top two EVs globally in the first quarter, with market shares of 8.5 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively. Wuling Hongguang's Mini EV was third, while BYD had four of its cars in the top 10.

Improvements in the technology of batteries — which now are capable of longer ranges and overall life — have been a significant factor for the rise in EV interest and sales, Counterpoint said.

The research company forecasts EV shipments to exceed 10 million units in 2022 and hit about 58 million by 2030, with competition becoming stiffer.

"This is the most tumultuous period since the auto industry was established more than a century ago," Peter Richardson, vice president at Counterpoint, wrote in the study.

"There will be a fight for existence as incumbent auto manufacturers use their scale and manufacturing expertise to fend off new entrants that have no legacy business to protect," he said.

"The current economic headwinds are likely to favour deep-pocketed incumbents, but some new entrants will either survive on their own or be acquired by established players.”

Updated: July 15, 2022, 10:07 AM