In recent years, traditional Chinese car enterprises such as Great Wall Motor, BYD and Geely have made persistent efforts in the field of plug-in hybrid vehicles, opening up new space for the further development of NEVs. Plug-in hybrids effectively solve the cruising range problem and are expected to eventually replace fuel-based vehicles.
Plug-in hybrids were once considered to represent the transition away from traditional automobile enterprises to NEV makers. They have the engines, transmission systems and gas tanks of traditional fuel cars, as well as the batteries, motors, control circuits and charging interfaces of pure electric vehicles.
The power performance and ride comfort of plug-in hybrids are better than those of fuel cars, as well as requiring lower fuel consumption and solving public worries about cruising range. In the current market, the cruising range of pure electric vehicles is usually 400-600 km, while that of hybrid vehicles is generally about 1,000 km. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are more convenient in terms of energy replenishment, which is not completely dependent on the charging network. Refueling can be used to replenish energy in emergencies, making them more efficient and convenient.
However, the high cost of building plug-in hybrids is a major obstacle for them to replacing fuel cars. More auto components need to be added, resulting in generally higher prices.
Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that in September, the production and sales of plug-in hybrids were 177,000 units and 169,000 units, respectively, representing year-on-year growth of 183.8% and 177.5% – higher than that of pure electric vehicles. From January to September, the production and sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles were 1,033,000 units and 987,000 units, up 185.1% and 168.9% year-on-year.
BYD and Great Wall Motor have launched a number of plug-in and hybrid models in recent years, helping to increase market supply. So far, BYD has 11 plug-in hybrid models that sell for 100,000 yuan to 250,000 yuan and more. Great Wall Motor has a total of 10 plug-in hybrid models, priced at 100,000 yuan to 250,000 yuan ($13,812 – $34,531), as well as the Mocca DHT-PHEV, positioned in the high-end market at about 300,000 yuan. In addition, the launches of hybrid models such as GAC’s Trumpchi, Geely’s Leishen series, and the third-generation SAIC Roewe have further enriched market supply.
Plug-in hybrids are also increasing their contribution towards total NEV sales. BYD, for example, sold 106,000 hybrid models in September, compared with 95,000 EVs during the same period. Among them, the number of Song Plus DM-i models with insurance reached 28,621 units in September, ranking first among hybrid models in China for an eighth consecutive month.
BOC International expects sales of plug-in hybrid models to reach 6.07 million in China by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 52% from 2021 to 2025, and the penetration rate of plug-in hybrid models in passenger car sales will reach 19%.