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 July 2016

China-car-sales-graph-July_2016Chinese car sales are back in their traditional fashion: up with booming figures, as 1,55 million locally produced cars were sold in July, an increase of 28,7% over July 2015, although it has to be noted this was an exceptionally low month with sales down 5% over July 2014, because the domestic stock market collapsed just over a year ago. Still, we’re talking about the best July ever recorded, and by a large margin. This is also supported by the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate, which stands at 22,2 million units, the highest of the past four months. Year-to-date, Chinese car buyers have taken delivery of over 12,1 million locally produced cars, an increase of 13% over the first seven months of last year. As we’re used to by now, sales of SUVs and crossovers fueled the market, up 47% to 580.700 units, followed by MPV sales at +39% to 153.600. Even sedan sales showed impressive growth in July, naturally slower than the overall market, but a 20% improvement is the best we’ve seen in months, which translates into 824.900 sales. After enjoying record shares of over 43% in January and February, the local brands have seen their share slowly decline to 37,5% in July. Year-to-date, 40% of the cars sold in China wore a badge from a domestic brand, still two points above the full-year 2015 figure and the highest it’s ever been.

What will be interesting to see is if the Chinese auto market will finish 2016 in the positive. That may seem like a no-brainer as it ended last year with a bang, when the government stepped in to save a depressed market after the stockmarket meltdown, by launching a tax cut for cars with small engines (below 1,6 liters). This boosted sales to record heights in the last three months of 2015, as you can see in the graph above. The tax cut is scheduled to end by December 31st and if that happens as planned, Chinese consumers will pull forward their prospective purchases to 2016 and the market will get yet another boost in the last few months of the year before plummeting back down in early 2017. However, if the government decides to prolong the tax break (and communicates that in a timely manner), the market will remain more stable but it remains to be seen if it can keep up with the sales pace set in Q4 of last year. If the tax break stays, chances are the final figure for this year will be 22 million vehicles, an increase of “just” 9%. Still, that would be the healthiest solution for the market as a whole.

The leader of the model chart Wuling Hongguang celebrates 12 consecutive 40.000+ months and keeps the Haval H6 behind, by an ever-shrinking margin. The H6 topped the ranking in April and has been close behind ever since. Its multiple price cuts this year have boosted sales 69% in July and 43% YTD to help it close in on the year-to-date #2 position. The Volkswagen Lavida is the best selling sedan model in China, but is under threat from the Buick Excelle GT. The GAC Trumpchi GS4 goes from strength to strength in fifth place, once again frankly outperforming the Baojun 560, which has seen its volume shrink for four straight months, coming from 42.000 in March to just over a third of that figure in July. The Honda CR-V is also very impressive in 12th place, ahead of the Buick Envision for the first time in 11 months to take the title of best selling foreign brand SUV.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis June 2016

China-car-sales-graph-June_2016The Chinese car market is back in booming territory in June with sales up 20% to just over 1,7 million units of locally produced models, with a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate of 22 million units, up a million over the last two months. The first half total now stands at 10,6 million sales, an increase of 11,1% over the first half of 2015. Crossover and SUV sales jumped 41% to 632.300 units on the previous year, as MPV sales also surged at +35% to 170.400 units. As familiar by now, sedans showed a slower improvement at +8,9% to 925.100 sales. Once again, the share of local brands drops again after beginning the year with a bang, standing at 37,7% in June, with a first half share of 40,4%, still slightly higher than the 40,1% of the full year 2015.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Buick_Envision-SUVThe Wuling Hongguang is once again the best selling model in China, after it was briefly outsold by the Haval H6 in April, but the three Volkswagen models in the top-8 (Lavida, Jetta and Sagitar) all show improvements of around 70%, as the VW brand is back to outperform the market and regain some of its lost market share. Behind the H6, the GAC Trumpchi is the only other crossover (and the fastest growing model) in the top-10, with the Buick Envision and Baojun 560 the only other crossovers in the top-15, as a slew of recently launched local models are storming the charts quickly, most notably the Changan CX70, breaking the 10.000 sales threshold, the Geely Boyue at over 8.000 sales for the first time and the BYD Yuan at over 6.000 sales after having been launched in March.

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New model introductions in China, May 2016

The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse, with over 400 different locally produced passenger cars, and more than 1.000 including import models, minivans and commercial vehicles. And it keeps expanding, with 12 all-new models in March, 7 introductions in April and another 7 in May, excluding 3 additional (electrified) versions of existing models. We’ve already discussed the overall May 2016 sales figures for China, here we’ll introduce those newly launched models for this month.

FAW Xenia R7

Auto-sales-statistics-China-FAW_Xenia_R7-SUVThe most successful new introduction is from a brand that has suffered from a product drought, as this is only the third new model in the past 20 months. No wonder the FAW Xenia R7 immediately becomes the brand’s second best selling model in its introduction month with 3.931 sales, more than a quarter of FAW brand sales in May, but not enough to keep the brand from losing 17,3% of volume this month. The Xenia R7 is a small crossover priced from 69.800 Yuan (US$ 10,600 / € 9.350), powered by a 1,6 liter four-cylinder engine with 109hp and 155 Nm. Size: 4.300/1.780/1.650 mm. It is produced by FAW-Jilin, a subsidiary of First Auto Works based in Jilin province. It will probably replace the FAW Xenia, also known as Xenia M80, which was based on the previous generation Daihatsu Xenia / Toyota Avanza, the best selling cars in Indonesia. But don’t be surprised if this model stays in production, as long as there’s demand for an even cheaper alternative.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis May 2016

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lavida-sedan-2016Sales of automobiles in China increased 13,3% in May, the fastest growth rate so far in 2016. That means just over 1,7 million new passenger cars were registered in the country, for a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate of 22,1 million in May. Year to date, the figure stands at 8,8 million sales, an increase of 9,7% over the same period last year. Local brands continue to lag the overall market after enjoying a short boom in share in the beginning of 2016. In May, their share was down to 37,5%, the lowest of the year so far, but still up from 35,2% in May 2015. Sales of SUVs and crossovers jumped 36% to 627.000 units, MPVs followed with a 28% increase to 182.000 sales and even sedans sales were back into positive territory, albeit slightly at 1,5% to 904.000. Sales of EVs and PHEVs continued to thrive, with electric cars up 162% to 26.000 sales and Plug-in Hybrids gained 68% to 9.000 units.

As all models in the top-10 improve and 11 of the 12 best selling models add 25% or more to their volume of last year, the Chinese car market proves very dynamic again. The Wuling Hongguang reclaims its leadership after being outsold by the Haval H6 last month, while the quick rise out of nowhere of the Baojun 560 appears to have stalled. After its introduction last July, it has sold more than 30.000 units a month between October and March, including two 40.000+ months, but it dropped to 25.000 in April and is down to 18.500 in May, while falling out of the top-10. It’s still the best selling newcomer, ahead of the Buick Verano.

European brands

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Land_Rover_Discovery_Sport-SUVBreaking news: Jaguar Land Rover has finally started to report sales of its locally produced models in China: the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The former has been sold since October 2014 and the latter since a year later. We don’t yet have data from before this month, but May data shows that the Discovery Sport is the most popular of the two at 3.800 vs. 1.600 sales, undoubtedly helped by its optional 7-seater capability. With local production of the Jaguar XFL starting in a few months, we’ll finally be able to gain an insight into the performance of the Indian-owned British brands in China.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis April 2016

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Lifan_Maiwei-SUVCar sales in China are up 8,3% in April after a 12% increase in March. With almost 1,7 million sales of locally produced models,  the market has almost doubled since 2010. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate is 21 million in April, the first time ever the SAAR has topped 20 million units four months in a row. Year to date, the growth of the Chinese car market is 8,9% to 7,1 million units. After enjoying record shares of over 43% in January and February, local brands are down to 38,8% of sales, still slightly above the full year 2015 figure, but indicating the foreign brands are fighting back for their piece of the world’s largest car market. The impressive surge of SUVs is also slightly slowing, but still very impressive at +33,3% to 610.000 sales, while MPVs improve at half that speed with an increase of 16,7% to 182.000 sales and sedans are still down, this time losing 2,5% to 905.000 sales. The Chinese market is not only impressive in terms of volume, but also in terms of the number of models: 415 different locally produced models of passenger cars were sold in April, of which 7 all-new nameplates. When including imported models, pick-up trucks and minivans, the number will almost reach a dizzying 1.000 different nameplates.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H6-SUVThe big event this month is the new best seller on top of the rankings. After another price cut of 10%, inspired by increasing competition from most notably the Baojun 560, the Haval H6 saw its sales surge 43% to 43.946 units, overtaking both the perennial best seller Wuling Hongguang MPV and the Volkswagen Lavida sedan, even when sales of the Gran Lavida hatchback are combined with those of the sedan. This means China’s best selling SUV is now also China’s best selling passenger car overall for the first time ever. Year-to-date, the Hongguang still holds that title, but the Great Wall SUV brand has picked up the gauntlet to challenge its dominance. The Baojun 560 in its turn is down into 9th place vs. #4 year-to-date, and is even outsold by its rival GAC Trumpchi GS4 for the first time since the 560’s launch last July.… Continue Reading …

New model introductions in China, April 2016

Automakers keep launching new models onto the Chinese market at lightning pace. After a whopping 12 new models in March, the number of newcomers stood at 7 in April. In the first four months of 2016 already 28 new models have entered the Chinese car market.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Golf_Sportsvan-MPVThe best selling newcomer in April was the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan with 3.659 sales. In Europe, this is a competitor to the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, which was launched in China a month earlier, but the starting price of the Sportsvan is 105.000 Yuan lower than that of the 2-Series at 131.900 Yuan vs. 236.900 Yuan (€ 17.900,- vs. € 32.200,-). With such a price differential, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the VW selling more in its first month of sales than the BMW in its first two months. The Golf Sportsvan is sold in China with a 1.6-liter engine, a 1.2-liter turbo and two 1.4-liter turbocharged engines.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Lifan_Maiwei-SUVPlagued brand Lifan has a desperately needed success with the launch of the Maiwei (“MyWay”), selling 2.342 units of the new 7-seater SUV in its first month, making it the best selling model for the brand by far, as none of Lifan’s other models sell over 1.000 units. The Maiwei therefore already comprises 44% of Lifan brand sales, a figure that is highly likely to grow further in coming months, a similar trend we’ve seen with so many small local manufacturers after launching an affordable SUV (it costs significantly less than the price differential between the 2-Series Active Tourer and the Golf Sportsvan in China). However, the Maiwei has been unable to stop total sales of the brand from plummeting: even with the successful launch, Lifan sales are down 63% on April 2015 (YTD: -74%), as the rest of its line-up loses almost 80%, and its other two crossovers have suffered the hardest. The Maiwei is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter four cylinder engine.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis March 2016

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H6_Coupe-SUVCar sales in China are back into double digit growth in March after a dip in February due to the Lunar new year celebrations. The total market grows 12% to just under 2 million sales, bringing the year-to-date total to almost 5,5 million sales, an increase of 8,8%. The share of local brands comes down from its record 44% in February to 40,5% in March, slightly above the 40,1% of the same month last year. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that SUVs and crossovers are still the fastest growing segment in China by far, at +46% to almost 690.000 sales. MPVs gain 12% to 207.000 sales, while sedans continue to slump at -3% to 1,07 million sales. No wonder 7 out of 12 new models this year are crossovers.

European brands

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Renault_Kadjar-SUVThe most important happening for the European brands is the launch of Renault as a local manufacturer. Although the French brand has taken its time, it shows that it understands the Chinese car market perfectly by starting off with a crossover, the Kadjar. A second SUV will follow soon to replace the imported Koleos. The Kadjar sells over 2.700 units in its first month, which is pretty impressive and not far behind the Peugeot 3008 (down 43% to just under 3.000 sales). Peugeot and Citroën continue to struggle in China as they lack crossovers and their sedan line-up is ageing. Peugeot loses 20% for the third consecutive month as all of its models lose volume and the 308S hatchback struggles to make a mark. Citroën does even worse at -24% as only the C3-XR crossover improves while the new C4 sedan can’t make up for losses of the brand’s other sedans. No bright spots for PSA? Well, DS improves 19% to a still very shy 1.355 sales.… Continue Reading …

New model introductions in China, March 2016

A flood of new models has washed ashore in China last month, with no less than 12 all-new models appearing in the ranking for the first time. 7 SUVs, of which 5 from local brands, 2 MPVs and 3 sedans/hatchbacks. So I’ve decided to split this into a separate post from the regular China car sales analysis March 2016.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Kia_KX5-SUVThe hottest new crossover is the Kia KX5, which is the new generation Sportage in other countries, but Kia renamed it to bring it more in line with the naming strategy of the smaller KX3 crossover. Another reason to change the name is because Kia will likely continue to sell the previous version called Sportage R alongside the new KX5. The version before that is also still sold as the Sportage, but that’s likely to be discontinued soon. At 6.001 sales in its first month, the KX5 is already close to the figure of the Sportage R at 6.225 units, down from 7.382 in the same month last year. Combined sales of the three generations is up from 9.939 in March 2015 to 13.627 last month, supporting Kia’s decision to keep them alive for now.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Renault_Kadjar-SUVThe most notable newcomer is the Renault Kadjar, marking the start of local production for the French auto maker. Renault is a latecomer to the Chinese party but is determined to succeed, and they’re following the right strategy: launching crossovers. The Kadjar is the first but it will be followed by a slightly larger SUV that will replace the Koleos. The all-new factory with Joint Venture partner Dongfeng has a first-year capacity of 150.000 units, but can easily be expanded to double that figure. Renault already has about 200 showrooms in China from which it sold the Koleos, Fluence and Latitude, imported from South-Korea, and since a few months the Captur, imported from France. The number of dealers will expand in the coming months, but sales of 2.753 units in its first month is not at all bad. For example, the Jeep Cherokee sold 2.171 locally produced units in its first month of local production and is now at over 9.000 monthly sales. I don’t expect the Kadjar to hit such a figure anytime soon, but it has hit the ground running.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis February 2016

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lavida-sedan-2016Car sales in China are up 3% in February to 1.348.856 units, after growing 11% in January. However, as the week-long Lunar new year holiday moves between January and February, it can influence car sales in those months. Therefore most analysts prefer to compare combined January and February sales to the year before, as it gives a more realistic picture of the direction of the market. And that direction is still up, helped by the continued tax cut on small vehicles (up to 1.6 liter engines). In the first two months of 2016, the Chinese car market has grown 7,75% to just over 3,5 million vehicles. The share of local brands continues to reach record levels, now at 44,84%, up from 39,14% in February 2015 and from the previous record of 43,29% last month. The other trend we’ve witnessed in the last year also continues: SUVs gain 55% to 1,27 million sales and MPVs add 14% to their volume to 436.000 sales, while sedans drop 13% to 1,78 million sales. If this trend continues, SUVs will outsell sedans sometime in the next year or so.

The Volkswagen Lavida (excluding Gran Lavida) is the only import brand model in the top-5 and trails the perennial leader Wuling Hongguang by a mere 338 units in February, but is still way behind in the first two months. The Haval H6 is under continued pressure from the Baojun 560 for the title of China’s best selling SUV, while the GAC Trumpchi GS4 moves into third place of that segment and 10th overall, making it 5 Chinese models in the top-10. The renewed Buick Excelle XT and GT are the fastest growing models in the top-10 and the Buick Envision is the fastest gainer in the top-20.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis January 2016

Chinese car sales pick up their double digit growth in 2016, with an 11% increase in January to 2.164.779 units, a January record and the first time January sales top 2 million units. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) is up to a record 24 million sales. The shift away from cars and into crossovers and MPVs continues in 2016 with sedan sales down 8% to 1.113.039 units, compared to an increase of 23,2% for MPVs for a total of 264.531, and SUVs up an amazing 68,4% to 795.654 sales. Chinese brands continue to make inroads in their domestic market, at a moment when their exports are starting to stagnate. The share of Chinese brands at home is up to a record 43,3%, up from an average of 38,1% in 2015. Even accounting for Chinese brands under partial foreign ownership (most notably SAIC-GM’s local brand Baojun), the domestic automakers reach a record share.

GM-WuLing-HongguangGeneral Motors is on a winning streak in China, thanks to a great understanding of the needs in the marketplace and its focus on the still growing rural parts of China now that the Tier 1 cities and coastal areas have matured and growth has stalled. The Wuling Hongguang MPV from is SAIC-GM Joint Venture keeps the title of best selling passenger car in China by a large margin, as it enjoys 70.000+ sales for the sixth time in its three years on the market. The JV’s other brand Baojun multiplies its January 2015 sales by 2,5 to top 80.000 sales for the second straight month, and thus for the second time ever. Two of its models sold more than 40.000 units in January, while before last December none of its vehicles had ever reached that figure.… Continue Reading …