Top 10 EV Companies in China in 2024

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Top 10 EV Companies in China in 2024

If you ask people what company they think of when they think of electric vehicles, most people will probably say Tesla. However, Chinese electric vehicles are becoming more popular and gaining huge market shares worldwide. The biggest Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD, even beat Tesla’s Q4 market share in 2022, effectively positioning itself as Tesla’s major foreign competitor. In this article, we’ll be looking at the top 10 EV companies in China ranked by Q1 2023 sales, the last quarter for which we currently have concrete data. So let’s assess the Chinese EV market to determine which companies you should have your eye on as we move into 2024.

#1 BYD 比亚迪 Units Sold: 508,706

BYD vs. Rivian
BYD’s electric cars have become more popular worldwide and retain a majority market share in China.

While Elon Musk mocked BYD’s designs as ugly in a 2011 interview, this Chinese EV powerhouse hasn’t stopped its mission to overtake Tesla. In Q4 2022, they finally did it, achieving an 18.3% market share with 1.8 million sales compared to Tesla’s 1.3 million sales and 13% market share.

However, there are some downsides to BYD’s cars. While they have cutting-edge internal components, their human interface design is for the simpler man. Unlike Tesla’s automated smart cars, BYD’s cars have a simpler design with no “smart” features or automated driving. While this might be a downside for some drivers, many people appreciate BYD’s easy-to-use designs and the alignment with traditional car driving experiences.

#2 Tesla 特斯拉 Units Sold: 137,429

Only Tesla is allowed to own 100% of a car manufacturing plant in China.

While Tesla is an American company first and foremost, its operations in China are notable and the company has a significant market share in China at the moment. Tesla is the only foreign company able to own 100% of a car factory anywhere in China, making its expansion into manufacturing in the country quite important culturally.

Tesla’s journey in China began with a factory on the outskirts of Shanghai that produced around 711,000 cars in 2022, which was around 52% of Tesla’s global output that year. The company plans to expand its operations and increase the production output of that Shanghai factory with construction having begun at the end of 2023 and output increases expected to begin in Q2 2024.

#3 GAC Aion 广汽埃安 Units Sold: 80,308

The third-place holder of the Chinese EV companies right now is GAC Aion.

GAC Aion makes electric vehicles for the Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), which is mostly owned by the Guangzhou municipal government. While they used to be an underdog, GAC Aion has seen huge year-on-year increases, with a 79% increase between Q1 2023 and Q3 2023, where they sold over 80,000 units. This sales increase puts GAC Aion in third place for overall sales, behind BYD and Tesla.

However, GAC Aion falls into a specific issue where they have a lot of sales but very few active drivers. A large portion of their sales numbers come from car retailers and car-hailing companies, rather than individual buyers. Thus, while their sales are gaining a lot of steam, their cars aren’t on the road as much as other companies like Tesla and BYD.

#4 SAIC-GM-Wuling 上汽通用五菱 Units Sold: 77,701

SIAC-GM-Wuling dominates the mini EV market with the Hongguang.

SAIC-GM-Wuling is a joint venture and was initially a minivan manufacturer. However, they launched the Hongguang mini EV in 2020, and this model now represents 90% of the company’s overall sales. The Hongguang is a wildly popular Chinese mini EV. However, its Chinese version might surprise you with how few security features it has. For instance, this car doesn’t have airbags to protect the driver in case of a crash.

The conglomerate sells cars under multiple brands. You can find the Hongguang in Europe under the FreZe Nikrob brand where they go for around $13,800–$18,000. A comparable mini EV, the Nissan Leaf, starts at $20,875 after the $7,500 Federal tax credit you get for purchasing an electric vehicle. SAIC-GM-Wuling released three new EV models under their Baojun (宝骏) brand in September 2023.

#5 Changan 长安汽车 Units Sold: 60,674

White sports car at dusk
Changan has been an active and prominent car manufacturer since post-World War 2.

Changan is one of China’s most prominent state-owned vehicle manufacturers, having produced its first car (the “first Chinese jeep”) in 1957. The company produced its first electric vehicle in 2015, the Benen (奔奔) mini EV. In 2020, the company upgraded the model to the Benben E-Star hatchback, which was bigger and included more back storage.

In 2016, Changan announced that it would be working with Baidu to produce smart EV technology for navigation and driving. However, while Changan had some success with mini EVs— selling around 72,267 Lumin Corn 糯玉米 EVs and 41,351 Benben E-Stars — their real success in the electric vehicle market came when they launched two new EV brands, partnered with CATL and Huawei respectively.

#6 Geely 吉利汽车 Units Sold: 59,597

The Polestar is one of Geely’s sub-brands that was acquired by Volvo in 2015.

Geely started as a Hangzhou fridge manufacturer before being rebranded as Geely Auto. As an automobile manufacturer, Geely began producing minivans and other car models in the 1990s. Geely acquired Volvo in 2010 and also grabbed a stake in Daimer AG, the owner of Mercedes-Benz.

In 2015, Geely began work on its Blue Geely Initiative, which aimed to move its sales to electric vehicles with the goal of 90% of Geely’s sales being EVs by 2020. While they didn’t make this goal, with only 30% of their sales being EVs in 2022, that year saw a huge rise in Geely’s EV sales, with an even bigger year-on-year increase than BYD.

#7 Li Auto 理想汽车 Units Sold: 52,584

The Wei Xiao Li triumvirate has been making electric vehicles both domestically and internationally.

Li Auto is the most well-known of the three brands that make up the Wei Xiao Li triumvirate. The group, named for the first characters of their Chinese names — 蔚来 (NIO, pronounced wèilái), 小鹏汽车 (XPeng, pronounced xiǎopéng qìchē), and 理想汽车 (Li Auto, pronounced lǐxiǎng qìchē) — represents the most influential Chinese EV companies in the global market.

This company produces electric SUVs, such as the Li One, which was presented in 2019 at the Shanghai Autoshow. In May 2021, they upgraded the Li One to include self-driving automation and additional premium features, such as quiet tires and heated seats. According to the South China Morning Post, the company’s goal is to deliver 800,000 EVs in 2024, which would be a 167% increase over 2023’s target.

#8 NIO 蔚来 Units Sold: 22,449

Nio EP9
The NIO EP9 can go 0-60 in just 2.7 seconds.

While NIO can’t yet match the market share of long-established giants like BYD, it’s still a major EV player in China. It’s also one of the most aggressive Chinese EV automakers when it comes to expansion in Europe. Hundreds of its vehicles are already on the roads in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. The company plans to build at least 1,000 battery-swapping stations in Europe, Reuters reports. The swap technology enables changing out the battery for a fully charged example in just a few minutes, speeding up recharging.

NIO’s EV lineup includes the EP9 sports car, a two-seater built mostly out of carbon fiber. The EP9 can rocket to 60 mph from a standstill in 2.7 seconds and achieves 186 mph in 15.9 seconds. More prosaic models include the EC6, ES6, and ES7 mid-size SUVs and the ES8 full-size EV SUV. The mid-size ET5 sedan seats four, while the full-size ET7 sedan holds five passengers and competes against the Tesla Model 3.

#9 Hozon Auto 合众汽车 (Neta) Units Sold: 22,449

A blue Hozon Neta GT
Neta is Hozon’s sub-brand for producing electric vehicles.

Like GAC Aion, Hozon Auto has seen a lot of EV sales in recent years. However, in the same vein, their sales numbers are inflated by car rental and car-hailing companies buying vehicles to use within their businesses. Thus, you won’t see as many individuals with Hozon Auto EVs as their sales numbers might suggest.

The company currently has one EV brand, Neta. Hozon Auto has largely fallen into the pit that many Chinese EV companies do, which is that the market for electric vehicles in China is not profitable in any way, shape, or form. The company has started moving out of the Chinese market, targeting foreign markets such as Thailand, to bridge the revenue gap. The Bangkok plant has a goal of 20,000 vehicles per year when mass production begins in Q1 of 2024. The brand is also aiming for export sales of 100,000 vehicles in 2024.

#10 BMW Brilliance 华晨宝马汽车有限公司 Units Sold: 21,334

The Zinoro is an all-electric crossover that was based on the BMW X1.

BMW Brilliance is a partnership between the BMW Group and the Brilliance Group, headquartered in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. The BMW Brilliance Zinoro all-electric crossover, released in 2014, was the first product from the joint brand. In 2022, the company released an all-electric BMW 3 Series model only for the Chinese market, followed by an all-electric version of the BMW iX1 in 2023.

In 2022, BMW reported they sold about 42,000 all-electric vehicles in China, up 91.6% from 2021. The company said they doubled global sales of battery-electric vehicles year-on-year in the first two months of 2023 due to a strong Chinese market. China is BMW’s biggest single market, followed by the United States.

CompanySales in Q1 2023
GAC Aion80,308
Li Auto52,584
Hozon Auto (Neta)22,449
BMW Brilliance21,334
Source: Sina

Frequently Asked Questions

Is China an important market for EVs?

China accounts for approximately 53% of the world’s EV sales, and interest in EVs among Chinese car owners continues to grow.

Which company has the biggest EV market share in China?

BYD holds a 29.7% EV market share in China. Five of its EVs are on the top ten list of bestselling electric vehicles in early 2022.

Is growing Chinese competition harming Tesla’s China sales?

Tesla appears to be flourishing despite the rapid growth of Chinese EV automakers. Its made-in-China production is up 74% year-over-year as of late summer 2022. Many of these vehicles are made for export to Europe, but their sales are strong in China, too.

Which major Chinese carmakers currently trade on American stock exchanges?

Li Auto is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, following a $1.1 billion IPO. NIO went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2018, gaining $1.8 billion with its initial public offering.

Do any Chinese EV makers currently have significant U.S. sales?

BYD makes electric buses, forklifts, and trucks in the U.S. NIO hasn’t entered the U.S. market yet, but its aggressive push into the European market may be a springboard to more expansion.

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