Tesla China may not have set an all-time sales record in August, but it did achieve something quite incredible. Last month, the Tesla Model Y took the crown as China’s number one best-selling New Energy Vehicle (NEV), beating far more affordable rivals like the SAIC-GM-Wuling Hongguang Mini EV.
Tesla China’s Model 3 and Model Y have always been strong sellers in China, but because the vehicles are premium priced, they typically lose out in raw volume to much cheaper NEVs in the market. The most notable of these is the SAIC-GM-Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, as it is priced at just around $4,300.
The success of the Hongguang Mini EV and its raw numbers have been used as arguments against Tesla by the electric vehicle maker’s critics, several of whom have pointed to the microcar’s numbers as proof that the Model 3 and Model Y are struggling to gain solid footing in China. But looking at China’s top NEV sales in August, it would appear that such a narrative no longer holds water.
As could be seen in wholesale NEV figures that were released by the CPCA, the Tesla Model Y sold 62,169 units in August. In comparison, the Hongguang Mini EV sold a still-impressive but notably lower 49,119 units. In third place was the BYD Song, which sold 42,500 units in August. Just like the Hongguang Mini EV, the BYD Song is also more affordable than the Tesla Model Y.
Of course, it should be noted that the Tesla Model Y’s wholesale figures in August included units that were exported to foreign territories. Since August is the middle of the third quarter, Tesla China still exported a substantial portion of its vehicle production abroad. This September, however, this would not be the case, as Giga Shanghai is expected to focus solely on the domestic market.
The Tesla Model Y’s strength in the domestic Chinese market would likely become evident this September. With Giga Shanghai producing vehicles for local customers, Tesla China could focus on pushing its best-selling cars to reservation holders as quickly as possible. If Tesla China could increase its output even more, and if the Model Y continues to prove popular among Chinese consumers, then the all-electric crossover might beat its more affordable NEV rivals in volume once more this month.
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