Demand for gas-guzzling SUVs surges in China as electric car sales plummet


Auto industry news from Europe has outlined a sector devastated by Covid-19 industrial shutdowns in which the resilience of electric vehicles (EVs) has provided a rare highlight.

Environmentalists and the car-making industry alike have predicted a rebound in sales of conventional vehicles as Covid-19 restrictions are eased, with analysts expecting any revival in sales of traditional, internal combustion engine models to be short-lived as the engine type makes way for EVs in the longer term.

Monthly figures released by Chinese carmaker BYD have offered a snapshot of what that rebound might look like in Europe.

Coronavirus measures have been steadily eased across China with industry nearing a return to pre-Covid levels of output.

SUV demand

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BYD, in a monthly sales update to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday, revealed sales of battery electric vehicles (Bevs) last month had almost halved on the figure reported a year earlier while the number of conventional-fuel SUVs had more than quadrupled by the same comparison.

The Chinese carmaker stated 8,278 Bevs were sold in May, compared to 15,312 in May last year. The twin impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the rise of Bevs combined to reduce the sales of plug-in-hybrid (Phev) models to an even greater extent, with the May figures falling, year-on-year, from 8,031 to just 2,323 last month.

BYD added it sold 635 electric buses last month, compared to just 196 a year earlier but total EV sales more than halved, from 119,082 units in May 2019 to just 46,512 last month.

By contrast, 20,496 of BYD’s conventional vehicles were sold last month, up from 12,021 a year earlier. The number of conventional SUVs sold in the monthly figures rose from 3,440 in May last year to 15,887 last month.

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