In this section of the blog, you can find information and opinions about car sales in China. Stay up-to-date with which cars are selling the best and what we think future models will do.
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China car sales analysis March 2017

China-car-sales-graph-march-2017After a stable January, and a promising 20,2% gain in February 2017, March car sales in China are back to modest growth with a 2,9% increase to just over 2 million units. To put that small year-on-year growth into perspective: March 2012 sales just topped the 1 million units, so the market has doubled in 5 years time. In that light, a 3% improvement is quite a slowdown. Then again, first quarter sales are up 6% to 5,78 million and that’s on par with expectations, as sales growth was expected to slow down into the single digits after the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or smaller, which made up over 70% of total sales last year. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 23,5 million in March. SUVs and crossovers are the main (and only) winners in March with sales up 20% to 832.300 units, while sedans surprisingly show a loss of 4,9% to 990.200 sales (first quarter sales are up just 0,8%), and MPVs lose volume for the third month in a row at -15% to 199.300. The central government cut EV subsidies last January but when sales plummeted to almost a halt that month, the subsidies were quickly reinstated, and as a result Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 36% in March to 25.342 EVs and 5.778 PHEVs, but the Q1 figure is still down 4,7% to 44.333 EVs and 11.596 PHEVs. After domestic brands broke a new record share of 46,5% in February, foreign automakers struck back in March with their locally produced models as the share of the domestics dropped to 43,6%.… Continue Reading …

New model introductions in China, January & February 2017

The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with almost 500 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands, as you can see in our 2016 Chinese car sales analysis. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the January 2017 Chinese car sales ranking, we welcome 6 new models: 5 SUVs and a sedan and in the February 2017 ranking, we welcome 4 new models: 2 crossovers, an MPV and a sedan. A few of these models haven’t officially been launched yet, but show up in the rankings due to demo sales.

Baojun 510

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Baojun_510-SUVBaojun has launched a second new model in six months time and this 510 crossover is one of its best looking designs, especially from the front, with its squinting headlights that are visually connected to the grille by a chrome line. The sharp crease running from headlight to taillight and through the door handles makes for an attractive side design, together with the floating roof and the squared off wheel arches, although it should ride a bit lower to reduce the huge gap between the wheels and the arches.. Surprisingly, while a lot of these characteristics are familiar from other brands (Citroën, DS, Suzuki, Range Rover), the combination still looks like an original design. In the interior Baojun also shows it’s one of the more mature brands among domestics, with attractive design: an 8-inch screen on top of the center console in Mercedes-Benz style, Mini-style toggle switches underneath it and lots of “metal” frames.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis February 2017

China-car-sales-graph-february-2017After a stable January, Chinese car sales rise a promising 20,2% again in February 2017. This is a result of the Chinese New Year festivities, which alternate between January and February each year, so it’s better to look at combined figures of these two months before drawing conclusions about the strength of the Chinese car market. Thanks to 1,59 million sales in February, combined volume for the first two months of the year is up 7,6% to 3,76 million. This is still stronger than most analysts had predicted, as expectations for the first quarter of 2017 were in the low single digits due to the rise on sales tax on vehicles with small engines. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 22,68 million is the lowest it’s been since last July, but still significantly up 12% from the 20,25 million of February 2016. SUVs and crossovers are unsurprisingly the main winners with sales up 36,9% to 644.750 units in February (first 2 months: +18,9% to 1.496.712), while sedans gain 15,3% to 772.555 sales (first 2 months: +4,2% to 1.857.478) and MPVs lose volume for the second month in a row at -3,9% to 167.076 (first 2 months: -10,2% to 393.533). Sales of New Energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) jumped 30% in February, following a 74% decline in January when electric car subsidies were reduced 20%. This month, domestic brands also reach a new record share of 46,5% in February, breaking the previous high of 45,4% last December. For the first two months combined, domestics have a 44,4% share of their home market, the highest it’s ever been at this stage of the year.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis January 2017

China-car-sales-graph-january-2017The Chinese car market was down 0,6% in January, which is actually surprisingly strong if you consider these two factors: January had five fewer selling days than in 2016 because of the timing of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, and the expected impact of the tax increase on cars with engines of 1,6 liters or less. These cars had received a tax cut from 10% to 5% since Q4 of 2015, which was increased to 7,5% in January before a next step back to 10% in 2018. Considering 72% of sales during this period were cars that qualified for the tax cut, the increase was expected to have a dimming effect on the market in the first quarter of this year. In that light, half a percent loss is not representative for the rest of the year, and doomsday thinkers will have to wait until February results before we can draw any conclusions about a slowing of demand in the worlds largest and fastest growing car markets. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate of 25,8 million is a fair indication the market is still healthy as it’s still 1,6 million higher than January last year. A total of 2,17 million locally produced passenger cars were sold in China in January, still the second best ever January by a large margin. Crossover and SUV sales were of course the strongest segment with 11% growth on last year to almost 881.000 units, while sedans lost 3% of their volume to 1,08 million sales. MPVs, which had shown steady growth until recently, decline a shocking 21% to just over 206.000 sales. Local brands had a 42,8% share of the market, which is lower than January last year and lower than December, but still higher than the 2016 full year figure.… Continue Reading …

Cadillac sold more cars in China than in the US last month

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Cadillac_XT5-SUVIn January, China has overtaken the United States to become the largest global market for Cadillac, the luxury brand of General Motors. Cadillac reported a sales increase of 116% to 18.011 sales in China, of which 16.216 were locally produced (+160%). In comparison, the brand’s US sales in January were down 4,1% to 10.298 units. Worldwide Cadillac sales were 28.764 units in January, which means the US luxury brand sold just 455 cars outside of its two largest markets, just 1,6% of its total volume.

Until 2016, the United States has been Cadillac’s largest market with 170.006 deliveries last year, a loss of 3% on the previous year, while its 2016 sales in China surged 46% to 116.406 units, of which 111.532 were locally produced, more than double the year before.… Continue Reading …

China EV sales 2016: where almost half of the world’s EVs are sold

Auto-sales-statistics-China-BYD_Tang-SUVAfter discussing the China car sales figures for 2016, we’ll take a more detailed look into sales of EVs and PHEVs in the People’s Republic, which is by far the biggest market for Plug-in passenger cars in the world with a share of 44% of the world’s sales of this type of vehicle. That’s up from just 6% in 2013, helped by generous and sometimes fraud-prone subsidies. Will this quick rise continue? The Beijing central government has set a goal of 3 million EV sales in China by 2025, up from the almost 325.000 in 2016, so it’s definitely aiming for it. They will switch from the carrot strategy (subsidies) to the stick strategy (a carbon-credit scheme and a Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard), effective within the next few years, which mean foreign automakers will be forced to enter this market too. At the moment, most of China’s EV sales come from the local brands: Chinese automakers have produced 43% of all Plug-in cars built in 2016 worldwide. However, in the short term there is some uncertainty in the market as the central government’s subsidies will decline in 2017 to prepare for the new strategy. But moreover, the government has set standards for EV energy consumption and range, which could lead to a shakeout of mainly manufacturers of small and cheap EV citycars, many of whom are likely to fail to meet these tougher guidelines.… Continue Reading …

New model introductions in China, December 2016

The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with almost 500 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands, as you can see in our 2016 Chinese car sales analysis. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the December 2016 China car sales ranking, we welcome 10 new models: 5 SUVs, 2 sedans, one MPV and an EV, including a new brand, the fifth domestic new brand this year (offsetting the demise of 3). As a bonus, I’ll also throw in an interesting 11th model which isn’t entirely new (it’s been on sale since July), but for which we didn’t have sales figures available yet.

Soueast DX3

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Soueast_DX3-SUVSoueast Motors, a joint venture of Fujian Auto, CMC of Taiwan and Mitsubishi, has struggled to reach sustainable volume in its home market, as its line-up of sedans based on out-of-production Mitsubishi cars failed to keep up with rising demands of Chinese car buyers. That changed in 2015 when the brand launched its first crossover DX7 Bolang, which was designed with the help of Italy’s famous design house Pininfarina, and which immediately became the brand’s best selling model with more than three quarters of total brand sales. In December, that model was accompanied by a smaller crossover called DX3, which also was co-designed by Pininfarina. In its first month of sales, the DX3 immediately outsold its larger sibling and the two crossovers took a combined 92,5% of Soueast volume, a very promising start for the newcomer that’s intended to double the brand’s sales in this year after topping 100.000 sales for the first time ever in 2016.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis 2016

China-car-sales-graph-2003-2016For 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.

Country of origin

  2016 Change 2016 Share 2015 Share
Domestic +27,4% 41,4% 38,1%
European +9,8% 22,4% 23,9%
Japanese +11,5% 16,0% 16,8%
US +13,9% 12,5% 12,9%
Korean +6,7% 7,6% 8,3%

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.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis December 2016

China-car-sales-graph-december_2016It’s only fitting to see the Chinese car market end 2016 with yet another sales record broken: for the first time in history, more than 2,6 million cars were sold in the People’s Republic in a single month. To put this in perspective: this is almost as many cars as were sold in the UK in all of 2016, and over 900.000 units or 54% more than the 1,69 million cars US auto dealers sold in December, both figures are also records by the way. In relative terms, December’s 9,3% growth rate was the smallest since April and only the third time in 2016 the Chinese car market grew by less than double digits. Part of the explanation for this is that December 2015 was already a monster month, but still the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate came in at 25,1 million units, lower than the 3 months prior, reflecting December is traditionally the biggest selling month for Chinese car dealers. The sales tax break from 10% to 5% on vehicles with engines smaller than 1,6 liters which has fueled the market since October 2015 and which had been anticipated to be cut for 2017 will be phased out slowly to soften the blow next year. In 2017 these vehicles will incur a 7,5% sales tax before going back to 10% in 2018. Still, a more moderate growth rate is expected for 2017, especially in the first quarter. Then again, this is what experts have been predicting for a few years now, and somehow the market keeps proving them wrong.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis November 2016

China-car-sales-graph-november_2016Get ready to see some sales records shattered again: in November the Chinese car market broke its 11-month old record of 2,38 million sales in a single month by 150.000 units to over 2,53 million sales, an increase of 19,6% on last year’s November, which happened to be the first time Chinese car sales topped the 2 million sales milestone. It also means that China has broken 2015’s full-year record of 20,18 million sales already in November, as the year-to-date tally now stands at 21 million sales in 2016. Again, the purchase tax cut on vehicles with an engine of 1,6 liters or less fueled the market, as the central government still hasn’t decided (or at least made public) whether to extend the tax cut into 2017. If they keep this up, next month could be yet another monster month, breaking this month’s record again. Regardless of the outcome, pulling forward these car sales will have a moderating effect on the first few months of 2017, as analysts uniformly agree the next two years will see Chinese car sales plateau. Then again, analysts have been predicting this scenario for a few years now, and they keep getting proven wrong as the Chinese auto market has continued to grow sharply against all odds.

The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate again hit a new record in November at 26,4 million units. Sales of crossovers and SUVs shot up 41% to 1,02 million units, while deliveries of sedans increased 10% to 1,28 million and MPV sales grew 8% to 235.700. The share of local brands dipped from their record of 44,35% in October to 42,42% in November, still above the average of this year, as year-to-date the local brands have a share of 40,67% of their home market, compared to just 37,66% over the full year 2015.

The earth-shaking news this month is the Haval H6, becoming the first SUV to break the 70.000 monthly sales barrier.… Continue Reading …