For years, analysts have predicted a slowdown of Chinese car sales. After becoming the world’s largest market in 2013, outpacing the United States, it was believed the market could not sustain its impressive growth record. Then halfway through 2015, the critics finally appeared to find reality on their side, when Chinese stock markets suddenly crashed and the economy stalled. Add to that a government crackdown on corruption and the recipe for a slowdown in car sales was ready. However, the central government stepped in and lowered the sales tax for vehicles with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller from 10% to 5%, starting from Q4 of 2015. That helped car sales peak recover and 2015 set yet another sales record of over 20 million passenger car sales. In 2016, the tax break continued and the market grew further, adding another 17% to 23,6 million sales.
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60% of the growth came from domestic brands, as 9,8 million of the 23,6 million sales bore a badge from a Chinese brand, a record 41,4% of the total market. The previous record was 38,1% in 2015, which means local brands added 3,3 percentage points of share in a single year. Chinese brands increased their sales by 27,4%, more than double the growth rate of any of the other countries, as all saw their shares reduced. European brands took the biggest hit, losing 1,5 percentage points of market share to 5,3 million sales, with PSA Peugeot-Citroën as the biggest cause of concern. The American brands did best of the rest, losing just 0,4 percentage point of share to 2,96 million sales. Japanese brands sold 3,8 million cars in China in 2016 and South Korean brands sold 1,8 million units. All figures are for locally produced models only and exclude imports, which make up just 5% of the Chinese car market. [Read more…]