Sales go down, prices go up! “Little Tram” in “big trouble”?

Every reporter: Li Shuo Every editor: Pei Jianru

Xiao Chen, who graduated from college last year and saved a small amount of money, recently planned to buy an electric car to commute in the city. He had a small budget and set his sights on mini electric cars, but after visiting the market on the spot, he felt a little tangled.

“It is said on the Internet that miniature electric vehicles are of good quality and low price, but the price is not cheap. The 30,000-50,000 yuan models have low battery life and configuration, and the slightly more individual models cost tens of thousands more. Loaning tens of thousands of yuan to buy an A-class car is more cost-effective.” Xiao Chen said.

In fact, there are not a few consumers who have the same idea as Xiao Chen. Since the beginning of this year, the A00-class new energy vehicle segment has encountered “troubles” of growth. The data shows that the retail sales of A00-class products in the first nine months were 811,500 units, a year-on-year increase of only 42.4%, the lowest increase among all pure electric new cars, and the market share also dropped by nearly 10 percentage points compared with last year.

For reference, the total sales volume of A00-class new energy vehicles in 2021 is about 899,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 199.6%, accounting for 30.1% of my country’s new energy vehicle sales in the same year, making it the largest single sub-category.

Tabulation: every reporter Li Shuo (Data source: Passenger Association)

“Consumers of A00-class models are very price-sensitive, but since the beginning of this year, affected by multiple unfavorable factors such as chip shortages and rising raw material costs, the price of new energy vehicles has generally increased, weakening the most important cost-effective advantage of mini electric vehicles. With the increase of family population, consumption upgrade and increasing demand for intelligence, the mini electric vehicle market is also being squeezed from higher-level models.” Yan Jinghui, an analyst in the automotive industry, said in an interview with the “Daily Economic News” reporter.

20% increase in average product price

“If you are willing to buy a car recently, I advise you to place an order as soon as possible, because the price of the car has risen twice this year, and it is not ruled out that there will be another increase (price) at the end of the year.” In a Chery New Energy store in Beijing, a salesperson and a reporter said. According to him, the current Chery brand A00-class vehicles are mainly divided into two types: QQ ice cream is the main entry, and the main price is around 50,000 yuan.

Image source: Photo by reporter Li Shuo

“Last year, the opportunity to pick up the car for 30,000 yuan will not be available again in the short term. After the price increase this year, sales have indeed been affected to a certain extent. However, this small car is selling very fast in our store, and the current car color is not very complete. Now, the discount for ordinary models is around 1,000 yuan.” In a 4S store of SAIC-GM-Wuling, a salesperson admitted that the price of Hongguang MINIEV has risen by about 20% compared with last year. It is understood that the current guidance price of all models has reached more than 30,000 yuan, and the landing price of the 170km battery life Macaron model and the 200, 300km battery life Gameboy model has reached the range of 50,000-80,000 yuan.

“Before I came, I thought about spending 20,000 to 30,000 yuan to buy a car to pick up my granddaughter, but it turned out to be at least 40,000 yuan. I haven’t given the charging pile. I have to think about it again.” The person who came to this SAIC-GM-Wuling store to see the car Mr. Sun said when talking with reporters. When the reporter suggested that the price of the low-end model was only 32,000 yuan, he said that the lowest-end model had neither airbags nor air conditioners, which was extremely inconvenient to use in winter and summer, and would not consider buying it.

While the prices of the products sold have generally risen, there are still some models in the segmented market that no longer receive new orders. For example, at the end of April this year, Changan Automobile issued an announcement to suspend taking orders for the Benben E-Star national version. According to the reporter’s visit and understanding, the three versions of this model have been discontinued, and some consumers who ordered in April have not yet completed the delivery of the car.

Also discontinued are two of ORA’s miniature electric vehicles. On the evening of February 14 this year, the ORA brand issued a notice to 4S stores that all dealers would stop accepting orders for ORA’s black cat and white cat models from 0:00 on February 15. Dong Yudong, CEO of ORA Automobile, once revealed the deeper reason for the suspension of sales on the APP: after the price of raw materials rose sharply, ORA Black Cat lost more than 10,000 yuan every time it sold one, and the more it sold, the more it lost. At present, the official website of the ORA brand has no information on the two models of black and white cats.

“The profits of micro electric car companies are very thin. When the price of raw materials rises, car companies have no choice but to adjust prices, and there is almost no other means to digest costs internally. But for A00-class cars that emphasize low prices, rising prices The price is equivalent to stifling its own maximum competitiveness.” An insider of a new energy car company admitted frankly.

The low profit of bicycles can also be partially corroborated by the front-line sales staff. “Because the total landing price is low, most customers will choose the full payment when buying a car. The commission for a car to me is only 150 yuan, even if the loan insurance commission is added, it is only 300 yuan, which can only be regarded as hard money. “The above-mentioned SAIC-GM-Wuling store salesperson confessed to reporters.

Many entrants, few successful ones

In July 2020, Hongguang MINIEV was officially launched, and its monthly sales quickly surpassed the Tesla Model 3, which was in the limelight at that time. According to official data, the cumulative sales of this model have exceeded 850,000 in just over two years after its launch.

The strong performance of Hongguang MINIEV has also aroused the attention of car companies to this market segment, and players from all walks of life are flooding into the mini electric vehicle track. According to incomplete statistics, as of the end of last year, there were more than 40 miniature electric vehicles on sale in the market. Entering 2022, a number of miniature electric vehicles, including the Hongguang MINIEV, have also begun to launch derivative models.

However, more entrants have not been able to greatly expand the size of the market segment. Sales data show that the top “players” still occupy the vast majority of the market. In the A00-class new energy vehicle market, the five best-selling models of Hongguang MINIEV, Chery QQ Ice Cream, Chery Ant, Benben E-Star and Leapmotor T03 have reached more than 70% of the market segment.

Tabulation: every reporter Li Shuo (Data source: Passenger Association)

“At present, there are 29 companies in the country that are producing and selling a total of 53 A00-class pure electric vehicles. Among them, the top 15 models in production and sales account for 97% of the production and sales of the entire A00-class pure electric vehicle market. It can be seen that most markets The share is actually in the hands of a few car companies,” said Zhang Hong, secretary general of the New Energy Vehicle Branch of the China Automobile Dealers Association.

In comparison, among the A-class new energy vehicles, the market share of the top five models by sales is 51.05%. If fuel vehicles are included in the calculation, this figure will be further reduced to 35.65% in the overall A-segment vehicle market.

According to Wang Qing, deputy director of the Market Economic Research Institute of the Development Research Center of the State Council, when Hongguang MINIEV entered the A00-class new energy vehicle market, the market was in a stage of rapid expansion of demand, and there were not many entrants. SAIC seized the opportunity. GM-Wuling quickly occupied the market with its channel and supply chain advantages. At present, with the gradual improvement of market maturity, the competition pressure faced by late entrants increases, and it is not easy to open up the situation and reproduce popular models.

Yan Jinghui believes that limited by space, configuration and consumer car buying preferences, the market size of A00-class cars is naturally smaller than that of higher-class models. “But the product structure of automobiles is multi-level. Enterprises entering the market or unwilling to give up this market segment are also trying to win more customers. By increasing the scope of target customers, they can achieve the effect of driving overall sales.” Yan Jinghui said.

“Declaring war” on low-speed electric vehicles

“In 2022, the incremental pattern of new energy vehicles will change. The growth rate of the A00-class new energy market will be under pressure. The penetration rate of A0-class new energy vehicles is expected to increase, and smart new energy vehicles will also accelerate their penetration into the mid-to-high-end market.” A few days ago, In its research report, Ping An Securities predicted the changes in the domestic new energy vehicle market this year.

“With the increasing maturity of the supply chain, the cost of the complete vehicle is also slowly decreasing, and there is room for the price of electric vehicles to drop. In the future, it may be less than 100,000 yuan to buy A-class pure electric vehicles, then the market share of A00-class models Compared with now, it will shrink.” Shao Yuanjun, an analyst in the automotive industry, believes that the market share of the A00 class has declined year-on-year, mainly because with the maturity of the supply chain and industrial chain, the price of electric vehicles is getting cheaper and cheaper, which makes the new energy vehicle market. Begin to gradually penetrate upwards.

In the face of the “dimension reduction blow” from higher-level models, miniature electric vehicles also set their sights on the low-speed electric vehicle market with a lower “threshold”. “Many users actually use two-wheeled vehicles to meet the needs of the last kilometer or short-distance travel. This market is very large, about 30-40 million vehicles per year, and there are 300-400 million vehicles in stock, which is far from reaching the ceiling. Hongguang MINIEV is aimed at the replacement and upgrade of two-wheeled vehicles, not a market that can be replaced by traditional cars. This is a different category. Currently, there is no better product to meet the needs of more scenarios and more people. With the continuous enrichment of products and the continuous follow-up of competing companies, the market competition pattern will change.” Zhang Dawei, planning and product director of SAIC-GM-Wuling, said in a recent interview with the media.

The reporter also found in the survey that many companies give replacement subsidies to users of two-wheelers and low-speed electric vehicles when selling miniature electric vehicles. For example, SAIC-GM-Wuling proposed that customers who purchase Hongguang MINIEV can enjoy a 1,000 yuan additional purchase gift package with the two-wheeled vehicle invoice; in a Dongfeng Fengxing sales store, owners of low-speed electric vehicles and battery vehicles can also enjoy 1,000 yuan subsidy for adding or replacing the scenery MINIEV model. .

Image source: Photo by reporter Li Shuo

At the same time, many low-speed electric vehicle companies have also begun to transform into miniature electric vehicle manufacturers. So the previous low-speed electric vehicle companies such as Reading, Baoya, Jimai, and Fulu have all transformed into new energy vehicle companies. Taking Fulu as an example, in May 2020, Shandong Fulu Group achieved indirect holding of the BAIC factory through Qingdao Fulu, obtained the corresponding model production qualification, and released the A00-class electric model “Yuanbao”.

In this regard, Zhang Xiang, dean of the New Energy Vehicle Technology Research Institute of Jiangxi New Energy Technology Vocational College, believes that there is still a lot of room for the miniature new energy vehicle market segment in the long run. “At present, affected by the epidemic, policies and other factors, the growth rate of the A00-class market has slowed down, which I think is a normal phenomenon. At present, the per capita car ownership in China is probably less than 1/4 of that in the United States, while many small cities, small counties, Including the demand for cars in rural areas is still strong. In the future, as the epidemic trend improves and the demand for additional car purchases is released, the market space for A00-class electric vehicles is still very large.” Zhang Xiang told reporters.

Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the National Passenger Vehicle Market Information Association, also said in an interview with reporters that the current A00-class electric vehicle market has suffered short-term development “pains” and is expected to continue to grow this year, but the growth rate will not be too fast. In the long run, the market segment has a bright future.

“With the liberalization of the two-child and three-child policies, there are huge opportunities for development in several markets including mid-to-high-end vehicles, miniature electric vehicles, and A0-class electric vehicles. The structure of the auto market has changed from a family of three in the past to a new one. Diversified families, the structure of the passenger car market will also develop from a spindle-shaped structure to a more balanced direction.” Cui Dongshu said.

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