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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Surprises of 2015 and 2016: China

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2015 and which do we expect to surprise in 2016. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. We’ve already covered the surprises and disappointments in Europe, now let’s take a look at the Chinese car market

Which cars sold surprisingly well in 2015:

Domestic small and compact crossovers
Auto-sales-statistics-China-Baojun_560-SUVA lot of brands and models have done exceptionally well in China last year, but the models that stand out from the crowd are the affordable crossovers from Chinese brands, with the Baojun 560 as the absolute pinnacle. Deliveries of the 560 started in July, it was the brand’s best selling model by September and in October Baojun (a Joint Venture between General Motors and SAIC) sold more than 30.000 units of the crossover, and again in November, totaling over 110.000 sales in just 6 months time.
The biggest domestic automaker Changan also benefited hugely from its already existing two crossovers: the CS35 and CS75 more than doubled to a combined 323.000 sales in 11 months, helping the Changan brand move from #10 best selling brand in 2014 to #7 last year.
Auto-sales-statistics-China-GAC_Trumpchi_GS4-SUVOther brands have seen their sales multiply thanks to their crossovers, some of which take more than 90% of brand sales within a few months after their launch. The most striking example is the GAC Trumpchi GS4, which sold more than 108.000 units from May till November and made up 87,8% of GAC Trumpchi brand sales in November. But also the Brilliance V3, which sold over 54.000 units in that same time period and took 81,4% of brand sales, cannibalizing its larger sibling Brilliance V5. To a lesser degree the list continues with the MG GS, which sold over 37.000 copies between February and November, and the Leopaard CS10, which sold over 29.000 times between April and November and boosted Leopaard brand sales more than fivefold in November. Soueast introduced the DX7 Bolang in August and already sold over 21.000 units of the crossover, which helped Soueast from a YTD score of -14% at the end of July to +17% at the end of November, when sales more than doubled. The Yema T70 is the record holder of relative sales, taking 90,6% of total brand sales in November.
And then there’s Haval, the SUV brand from Great Wall. Sales of their line-up of 7 crossovers sold 50% more units than in 2014 and the brand broke through the half a million sales barrier for the first time, and did that in October already, and they’re likely to finish 2015 with 650.000 sales. That means they’ve gone from #16 in the brand ranking (and 6th domestic manufacturer) in 2014 to #10 (and 3rd domestic).
A total of 2,9 million SUVs from domestic Chinese brands have been sold in the first 11 months of 2015, that’s an increase of a whopping 87,7% on the same period of 2014, while the overall market is up “just” 7,27%.

Continue Reading …

Both US and China set for new sales records in 2015

China-US-Europe-car_sales_figures-2015As we’re approaching the final few weeks of 2015, it’s becoming clear that this has been another great year for the automotive industry, most notably in the two largest markets in the world: China and the US. Both markets are on track to set new volume records in 2015, but have taken different paths towards those records. The previous US sales record was set in 2000, when automakers sold 17,4 million cars but never reached that figure ever since. At that time, the US market was more than 30 times bigger than the Chinese car market, but the latter hasn’t stopped growing ever since. And at an amazing pace: 27,5% per year on average. As a result, the Chinese passenger car market caught up with that of the US in 2013, and is set to break through the 20 million units barrier for the first time this year.

Passenger_car-sales-US-China-2000-2015Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis November 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lavida-sedanCar sales in China are back in boom-mode in November: after a 15% gain last month, November sales are up 23,3% to over 2,1 million units, the highest monthly figure this year. November sales were helped by the tax cut on smaller models the Chinese government introduced in October, as sales of vehicles eligible for the tax cut totaled 1,56 million vehicles, up 29%. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate (SAAR) was up from 19 million units in September and 21,8 million units in October to 22,5 million units, close to the January score. As a result, the Chinese car market is up 7,3% so far this year, so although December also expected to be a blockbuster month, it’ll be a stretch to assume we’re going to end 2015 with double digit growth, but nothing is impossible in China. Still, we’re only 772.000 units off the 2014 full year figure, and with over 2 million sales expected in December, we are going to get a new Chinese sales record in 2015.

All segments of the market showed improvements this month, unsurprisingly led by the SUV segment, as demand for compact crossovers boosted SUV and crossover sales 72% to over 716.000 units, while sedan sales were up 9,1% to 1,17 million units and MPV sales were up 8,8% to over 218.000 units. The market share of local manufacturers was slightly down on October to 39,3%.

Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.

In November, Volkswagen finally rebounded from its 8-month slump with sales up 37% thanks to year-best sales for the Bora, Lamando and Lavida sedans, but due to slow sales earlier this year VW is still down 4% year-to-date. Buick consolidates its second place with sales up 22% in November thanks to the new-for-this-year Verano and Excelle GT and the Envision SUV, which will be exported to the US next year. Nissan moves from 8th place year-to-date and 5th place in October to 4th in November, boosted by the instant success of the Lannia sedan, introduced last month and already passing the 10.000 unit mark, without cannibalizing sales of the brand’s other small and compact sedans Sunny and Sylphy. Crossovers also helped Nissan become the best selling Japanese brand in China this month, as the Qashqai, X-Trail and Murano lodged solid year-over-year improvements.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis October 2015

The Chinese government’s tax cut to boost sales of smaller cars has helped the car market to a 15% gain in October, to almost 1,9 million units, making its the second best month of the year, after January. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate (SAAR) was up from 19 million units in September to 21,8 million units in October, also the second highest of the year.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Buick_Encore-SUVThe tax cut, from 10% to 5% on cars with engines up to 1,6 liters, was introduced October 1st. As a result, compact car sales were up 17%, as 69% of all cars sold in October fell within those criteria. The effects of the tax cut are expected to last at least through the end of this year, making sure the the Chinese car market still on track for yet another record breaking year. All segments of the market were back in the black this month, although not equally: SUVs continued to surge, up 61% to 622.000 units, while MPVs were up 4,6% to 193.000 and sedan sales were up by only 0,2% to 1,05 million units. The market share of local manufacturers was up 3,4 percentage points on October 2014, to 39,5%.

Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.

European brands

BMWAuto-sales-statistics-China-BMW_5_series_L-sedan October sales in China, including Rolls Royce and Mini, were up 4,8% to 41.500 vehicles, of which 22.894 of its three locally produced models, up 3,5%. Year-to-date, BMW Group sales are up 2,3% to 384.176 units, of which 61% locally built. That means Mercedes-Benz has closed in again this month, with 33.088 sales, up 43%. Year-t0-date, Mercedes is up 32% to 299.375 units, with two thirds China-made. And with local production ramping up of the GLC as a replacement to the GLK, Mercedes is expected to carry its momentum for the next couple of months. Audi remains the largest luxury brand in China, with sales of 47.236 locally produced cars in October, an increase of 14% year-on-year, as the brand is down 2% to 412.575 local units year-to-date.

Porsche saw a sales increase of 44% in October to 4.950 imported cars, and year-to-date Porsche China sales are up 37% to 49.190 units. As a result, China has passed the US as Porsche’s biggest market, thanks to its SUVs Macan and Cayenne. Like Porsche, China has overtaken the US as Volvo‘s biggest market as well, although in October, the US was slightly back ahead again, as Volvo China sales edged up just 2% to 7.066 units, of which 78,5% locally produced.… Continue Reading …

Hyundai launches new luxury brand: Genesis [w/ poll]

Hyundai-25On Wednesday Hyundai finally announced what many have been speculating for years: that it will spin off a new luxury brand under which it will sell its Genesis, Equus and Coupe models. The brand will be named after the most popular model of the three, the Genesis, taking advantage of the name recognition it has earned since its 2008 debut. It will be the first major luxury brand created since Infiniti, the last of the Japanese luxury brands, came to the market in 1989.

So, what should we think of this? Does Genesis have a chance to succeed in the increasingly crowded luxury market, or does it not have a snowball’s chance in hell? Here are three reasons why I think it could succeed:… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis September 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Zotye_Damai_X5-SUVAfter three months of declines, Chinese car sales have rebounded into positive territory in September, up 6,8% to almost 1,7 million locally produced models, with a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) at 19 million units, the highest it’s been since last May. As we’ve seen for almost the entire year, the only segment to boost sales is the SUV segment, up 59% to 566.500 units, while the other segments continue to slide, at -11% to 951.500 sales for sedans and -4,1% to 161.300 for MPVs. Year-to-date, just over 13,8 million domestically produced cars have been sold in China, an increase of 5,4%. As the Chinese government has cut the purchase tax on small cars (with engines of 1,6 liters or less) in half, effective from October until the end of next year, car sales in China are set to remain robust for the rest of the year.

EVs and Plug-In Hybrids had an excellent month in September, with EV sales quadrupling to more than 19.000 units and PHEV sales up 230% to 8.800 units, both thanks to tax incentives of (local) governments. In the first three quarters of 2015, combined EV and PHEV sales are up 330% to 87.500 full electric cars and 49.200 plug-ins.

Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis August 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Honda_Vezel-SUV Chinese car sales in June and July were down 0,87% and 4,63% respectively, after booming for over five years. In August, the loss narrowed to 0,64% thanks to 1,37 million sales, and the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) was back above the 17 million mark at 17,66 million units. Following the trend that the Chinese auto market has followed in recent months, sedans and MPVs were down harshly, at -16% to 761.600 sales and -9% to 132.700 sales respectively, while SUV sales continued their boom by surging almost 46% to 453.200 units.

However, the SUV love isn’t spread equally as well, as most small SUVs from foreign brands plunged hard on increased competition from larger but cheaper local offerings and powerful sales of Honda’s two models Vezel and XR-V. Just a few months ago, these models were among the hottest on the market, but they’ve quickly lost their appeal as the domestic brands turned up the heat. Among the victims are the Ford EcoSport, Chevrolet Trax, Kia KX3, Citroën C3-XR, Peugeot 2008, DS6 and Mitsubishi ASX, while the Hyundai ix25 appears able to resist the plunge. But also some domestic nameplates appear to suffer from the influx of hot new models, as the BYD S6, Brilliance V5, Chery Tiggo 3 and Tiggo 5, FAW Besturn X80, GAC Trumpchi GS5, and the Lifan X60 and still relatively X50 are also taking a hit from either a fresher SUV in their own line-up or worse: from other brands.

Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis July 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Baojun_560-SUVAfter Chinese car sales in June showed their first monthly decline in more than five years, in July the loss has widened with sales of locally produced cars down almost 5% to just over 1,2 million units. As a result, the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) dipped to its lowest score of the year at just 16,6 million units. Unsurprisingly, the declines in the sedan and MPV segments are the greatest, while SUV sales keep improving further thanks to successful model introductions by mostly the local Chinese brands. SUV sales were up 41,8% to just over 400.000 units, while MPV sales were down 5,9% to less than 110.000 units and sedan sales were down even worse at -18,2% to just over 690.000 units. Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.

Japanese brands

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Honda_XRV-SUVThe Japanese brands have fared relatively well in China this month, although their fortunes were still mixed. Honda profited from its small SUV duo XR-V and Vezel, which both topped 10.000 sales for the second straight month, making the brand’s three best selling models all SUVs (the CR-V is still the best selling Honda) and helping the brand to an 85% surge of sales. Toyota also clearly outperformed the market with sales up almost 18% and the Corolla in second place overall, and best selling sedan for the second month in a row. Mazda was up 12% and Nissan just 3%, which is the first increase of the brand since January, while Suzuki was down 10% although that’s its smallest decline since January. Mitsubishi sales were down more than 25%, causing the brand to dip below last year’s year-to-date volume.

European brands

In July, the European brands lost a lot of volume in one of their most important export markets, suffering from a lack of crossovers and SUVs. Mercedes-Benz proves that fact as the already successful GLA small crossover pushes its sales of locally produced models up 150% on last year. Mercedes is up 42% including imports. The GLA is already the brand’s second best seller behind the C-Class and helped the brand sell more locally produced models than BMW for the first time in history, as sales excluding imports at BMW dipped 5%, while Audi was down 3%. Year-to-date, the BMW 5-series L is now well ahead of the Audi A6L and looks set to outsell the former government favorite vehicle for the first year in history.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis June 2015

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H1-SUVThe Chinese car market remains as buoyant and dynamic as ever, even when it finishes June 2015 as the first month of decline since early 2009, as just over 1,4 million locally produced vehicles were sold in China, down 0,87% on last June. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) dipped below last year’s total at 17,9 million units. As has become usual for China (and for the US and Europe as well, for that matter), sales of SUVs and crossovers bucked the negative trend, as sales of this segment surged 38% to almost 450.000 units, while sedans were down 15% to less than 850.000 sales and MPVs were down 1% to 125.000 units. Overall sales, including import models, were down 3% to 1,51 million units.

To underscore the volatility of the Chinese auto market, of the 370 models that were sold in June, almost a quarter (91 nameplates) recorded their lowest volume of the year, and half of those (46 nameplates) even recorded their lowest volume ever. And even more worryingly for those brands, this includes models that have been introduced as recently as last year, for example the Dongfeng Fengdu MX6, Fengshan L60, and Joyear SUV, Haval H1 and H9, Kia KX3, MG GT, Peugeot 308S, Suzuki Alivio, Venucia R30 and Yema F16. To balance that, 58 nameplates had their best month of the year in June, of which half (29 models) had their best sales ever, including a handful of recent launches.


Auto-sales-statistics-China-Kia_KX3-SUVThe South-Korean manufacturers had a month to quickly forget, with Hyundai sales down 30% and Kia down 26,5%. The Hyundai Verna, Elantra Langdon and ix35 had their worst month of the year, and the Elantra Yuedong even had its worst sales ever. For Kia, the Sportage had its slowest selling month of the year, but more worryingly, the Forte, K3, K4, K5 and the recently launched KX3 small SUV had record low sales.… Continue Reading …

China car sales analysis May 2015

The cool-down of the Chinese auto market continues in May, with an increase of just 1,2% for the total market and 4% for locally produced cars, for a total of just over 1,5 million sales. Year-to-date, 8,6 million vehicles have been sold in China, of which 500.000 imports (not included in the figures below) and 8,1 million locally produced models. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate (SAAR) for locally produced cars is up to 19,4 million units, from 19,1 million last month. May 2015 had 2 fewer sales days than the same month last year, which explains some of the decline.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lamando-sedanThe shift towards SUVs and crossovers keeps becoming more apparent, as sales of sedan models were down 10% to just over 900,000 vehicles, while sales of SUVs were up a whopping 44% to almost 460.000 units. MPV sales were up 8% to 140.000 units. The slowdown occurred despite several brands cutting prices of across their line-up, most notably General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Hyundai. Despite these cuts, GM saw flat sales at Buick and a decline of 24% at Chevrolet, while Ford was down 8,7% and Hyundai slipped 12%. Volkswagen was also down 12%, as the brand is hurt by its failure to respond quickly to changing consumer preferences, offering just a line-up full of sedans but just one locally produced SUV, while Chinese automakers are launching a handful of new, low-priced SUVs every month.

Even premium brands were not immune to the downward trend in Chinese car sales. … Continue Reading …