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China's EV sales sink in face of COVID-19: Platts Analytics

London — China's electric vehicle sales saw a downturn in February, rattled by the coronavirus pandemic, with a 72% drop in plug-in EV sales, according to latest data from S&P Global Platts Analytics Tuesday. However, the picture was much brighter in Europe.

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China's PEV market share, however, increased to over 6% in China due to an even steeper drop off in total light vehicle sales of over 80%, according to Platts Analytics in its latest EV Essentials publication.

China's government said earlier this month that it would extend EV subsidy programs to help prop up the ailing auto sector.

"Although the subsidy extension had been expected, we believe the official announcement amid a gloomy market will still trigger a positive stock reaction in the EV value chain, OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] in particular. But, the real impact on EV sales stays fluid, depending on more interacting forces beyond subsidies," Morgan Stanley said in a research note.

Output and sales of New Energy Vehicles in China last year fell to 1.242 million units and 1.206 million units, respectively, down 2.3% and 4.0%. Chinese NEV sales are forecast to remain flat year on year in 2020, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Europe sales jump

"In a stark contrast, EU+ (EU-27 and the UK) experienced another month of extremely strong absolute growth [in February] from the momentum of significantly tightened light duty emissions standards. France alone experienced a 220% year on year boost in PEV sales, with Germany (+148%) and the UK (+117%) posting impressive growth as well," Platts Analytics said.

Overall UK new car registrations in March fell 44.4% year on year as the coronavirus pandemic caused showrooms to close, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said April 6.

Registrations of EVs rose almost threefold in the month to 11,694 units, accounting for 4.6% of the market, while plug-in hybrids grew 38%. Uptake of hybrid electric vehicles, however, fell 7.1% from March 2019 levels.

"The spread of COVID-19 has presented significant downside risk for oil demand and pricing along with widespread uncertainty for the auto markets. Platts Analytics' EV Essentials will continue to monitor the impacts that reduced consumer confidence and broader economic ramifications have on PEV sales across the globe," the research said.