The Chinese car market grows for the third consecutive month in August 2017, with a 6,5% increase to 1,87 million sales. That brings the year-to-date total to almost 14,5 million sales, an increase of 3,7% on the same period in 2016. Looking at the final four months of last year, they were exceptionally good in terms of sales volume due to the pending reduction of the tax cut on small vehicles (engines of less than 1,6 liters). The tax, which was temporarily halved to 5%, increased to 7,5% on Jan. 1st 2017 and will return to its normal rate of 10% on Jan. 1st 2018. This may give the Chinese car market another boost in the final few months of this year, but will it be enough to keep the market from decreasing for the first time in a couple of decades? The year-end rally in 2016 pulled forward a lot of sales, which translated in a slow start of 2017 and that may be difficult to make up in the final few months of the year. Back to August: crossovers and SUVs continue their boom with an 18% increase to 760.700 sales, but for only the second time this year, after February, sedan sales also improved, up 4% to 954.800 units. The MPV segment remains weak with a decline of 19% to 155.200 sales. Within those sales figures, electric cars and PHEVs also showed a impressive improvement of 76% in August, to almost 68.000 sales. EVs were responsible for most of that growth, as sales increased 96% to 56.000, compared to a 22% increase for PHEVs, to 12.000. These figures add up to 260.000 EV and 59.000 PHEV sales in China so far this year, an increase of 30% on the first 8 months of 2016 and 2,2% of the overall market. The Beijing government has set a target of 6,7% in 2020 and as much as 20% by 2025, helped by a carbon credit scheme that will be imposed in 2018.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate in August stood at 24,9 million, the highest since last January and up almost a million on July. The share of domestic automakers in August was 38,5%, the lowest figure in the past 13 months and down from 39,15% in August 2016. However, it’s worth noting that the share of domestic brands in the crossover segment is an impressive 56%. Despite their success in this hot segment, sales of domestic brand vehicles across all segments trailed the market growth at +4,7%, though still beat the US brands at +2,8% and the South-Korean brands at -27,2%, their lowest rate of decline since last February. With European brands up 8,7%, most of the growth in China came from Japanese brands at +25,3%.