Tesla's Model Y seen shaking China's auto market

Electric vehicle sales look set to zoom in China this year.

Industry and analyst forecasts predict a rise of 30-40% for so-called new energy vehicles, or NEVs.

That includes plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars.

The boom would follow tepid gains in 2020, seen at about 8%, when health worries kept consumers at home.

But Tesla’s Model Y looks like emerging as the big disruptor.

The company this month started selling locally built units of the midsized SUV.

And it’s priced them about a tenth less than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles.

At about $52,000, the model undercuts rivals from Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

All told, industry sources say Tesla is expected to make about half a million vehicles in China this year, more than three times the total in 2020.

Its German rivals all have their own new models, however, potentially adding to the boom.

And homegrown players are stepping up too.

Local brands like Nio and Xpeng are also expanding manufacturing capacity.

What happens will be closely watched.

China is the world’s biggest car market, and accounts for about half of global EV sales.

Beijing wants all new energy vehicles to account for a fifth of sales by 2025, up from 5% now.

It’s extended electric vehicle subsidies by two years to help hit that target.

If the forecast boom materialises, that could see NEV sales hit about 1.8 million units this year.