China car sales analysis 2019 – brands

The Chinese car market has declined every single month in 2019, which means it has continued its losing streak to 18 consecutive months. One little ray of hope is that December 2019 showed the lowest rate of declines of the streak at -0,9%, and all the double digit losses were limited to the first half of the year. A grand total of 21,07 million passenger cars were delivered to Chinese dealers in China in 2019, which is 9,5% lower than 2018 and 13,4% lower than the peak of 24,3 million in 2017. These figures exclude commercial vehicles, minivans and imported cars and reflect wholesale deliveries from the factory to the dealers. In the short term, the Beijing government is not planning any incentives to prop up the market, but it has ended its reduction of subsidies on one of the fastest growing segments of the Chinese car market: that of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Rather, the government seems to see this market contraction as an excellent opportunity to consolidate the market as (too) small players will be forced to close down or be taken over, while the larger state-owned carmakers also feel extra pressure to merge their operations and cut loss-making domestic brands. Also, China’s central government has pressured most major cities and provinces to adopt State 6 emissions rules (which are similar to the Euro 6 standards) on July 1, which caused local dealerships to offer steep discounts on vehicles that didn’t meet these standards. This is one of the reasons why wholesales have reduced their decline in the second half.

In 2019, sales of all vehicle types declined, and unsurprisingly crossovers and SUVs took the smallest hit at -6,7% compared to -10,4% for sedans and a horrid -18,1% for MPVs. As a result, crossovers and SUVs now hold a record 43,6% share of the Chinese passenger car marke (up 1,3 percentage points), compared to 49,7% for sedans (down 0,5 percentage points) and 6,7% for MPVs (down 0,8 percentage points). Within those figures, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids declined for the first time, as the government cut subsidies on those vehicles in the second half. In the first half of the year, sales of New Energy Vehicles jumped 57%, but the second half drop was so significant that full-year sales were down 4% to nearly 1,2 million. Sales of EVs were down 1,2% to nearly 972.000, while Plug-in Hybrid sales were down 15% to nearly 232.000.

The share of foreign brands increased for the third consecutive year to 61,2%, the highest it has been since 2015 and up 2,6 percentage points on 2018. This is a result of a 15,2% drop in sales of domestic brands, compared to a drop of just 5,4% in sales of foreign brands. Among these, the Japanese brands were the only group to inccrease sales in 2019 at +3,1%, while European brands were down just 1,9%, US brands down the most at -22,8% and South-Korean brands were down again by double digits at -17,9%. As a result, Japanese brands hit their highest share in China since 2011 at 21,7% and both US brands and South-Korean brands their lowest shares in China since 2004 at 9% and 4,6% respectively. European brands on the other hand took their highest share in China since 2004 at 25,9%.

Unsurprisingly, Volkswagen is still China’s best selling brand, and thanks to its onslaught of crossover launches in the last two years, it manages to keep its sales virtually stable (-0,9%) and this improves its market share to 14,6%. Its nearest rivals are closing the gap, but VW still sells more cars in China as Honda and Toyota combined. The latter takes the #3 spot from Geely as Toyota has now improved its ranking in each of the last three years, going from 6th in 2016 to 3rd in 2019. Geely is the big loser in the top-5 with sales down 12% after its record of last year, with Nissan stable in 5th place and Buick in great difficulty at #6, dipping below the 1 million sales mark for the first time since 2014 and scoring its lowest sales since 2013, 350.000 sales below its peak in 2016 and 2017 and its lowest market share in at least 2 decades. Sister brand Chevrolet is down 23,6% this year, to its lowest sales since 2009. Changan beats the overall market and reclaims the #2 domestic brand, just ahead of Haval, as both leapfrog Baojun which is in trouble with sales down more than 31% on 2018 and more than 40% on 2017. Baojun’s sister brand Wuling is down 21,3% to half of its peak in 2014. Hyundai also loses market share at -13,3% and is now below its 2010 level and down 40% from its peak in 2016. Sister brand Kia is down even worse this year at -27,4% but it too is down nearly 40% from its peak in 2016 and below its 2010 level, and to its lowest market share since at least 2003.

Beijing Automotive is down by more than a third at #21, with Huansu sales down by nearly two thirds (also posted separately at #42), and Ford is down by nearly 40% to just 1,1% market share, coming from 4,3% share in 2014 and back to its sales level of 2009 at below 250.000 sales. At least the brand broke its 30-month losing streak in December 2019, a sign the brand may have hit rock bottom. FAW is one of the big gainers in the top-30 thanks to surging sales of its upscale Hongqi brand (also posted separately at #37), while Zotye sales halved in 2019 to barely stay above 100k.

Jeep had a difficult year at -41,4%, but not as much as PSA with both Peugeot and Citroën down by more than half, from already low levels. Peugeot sales are down to the lowest since 2006 and its market share of just 0.3% is a new low, down from over 2% in 2014 and 2015. Citroën sales and market share have never been lower than now, since it launched in China in the 1980s. What’s even more embarrassing for PSA, is that Renault become the best selling French brand in China in December 2019, despite itself dropping over 63% for the year.

Records

Honda sets a new annual sales record in China, passing 1,5 million sales for the first time, with Toyota also setting a new record, passing 1,4 million sales for the first time, as well as the 1,3 million sales mark. Meanwhile, fellow Japanese rival Nissan is down 0,3% on its record of last year, staying just below 1,2 million sales. Similarly, Audi is down 299 units on its record of last year at 620.000 sales while its two German luxury rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW both set new annual sales records for their locally produced models, with 595.000 and 544.500 sales respectively. SAIC MG sets a new record at nearly 270.000 sales and sister brand SAIC Maxus almost doubles on its previous annual record with 60.500 sales. Both Volvo and Lynk & Co break their annual sales records at 132.000 and 128.000 sales respectively. FAW’s Hongqi brand nearly breaks the 100.000 sales mark for the first time ever, taking nearly half of total sales for FAW. Borgward enjoys a second youth, nearly 1.000 sales above its previous record of 2017 at over 45.000 sales. Infiniti continues to grow with its two locally produced models, breaking the 30.000 sales mark

Newcomers

 

Best selling new brand in 2019 is VW’s Jetta brand at #44 with just over 49.000 wholesale deliveries in four months, which accidentally also makes it the most successful new brand launch in China ever. The only blemish on its record is the dip to just 9.225 sales in December, the lowest figure since launch, which could be a sign that dealers are not selling as many cars and withholding new factory orders. The Weltmeister EV brand is at #67 with just over 15.500 sales, at about the same level as Xpeng which started a few months ahead of it, but both startups can’t be satisfied with this level of sales, nor can rival Nio at #62 with just under 21.000 sales. Similarly, Geely’s EV brand Geometry also can’t break past the 1.400 average monthly sales of Xpeng and Weltmeister, while JAC-VW’s new EV brand Sol delivered just 1.639 cars to its dealers in October and November, as December deliveries were back to zero.

 

Brief note: when looking at total sales figures (including imports), 2019 marks the first year that Audi is not the leading luxury brand in China, and is in fact outsold by both Mercedes-Benz and BMW, albeit by a small margin. Mercedes-Benz took the #1 luxury brand title in China, with sales up 6,2% to 693.443, followed by BMW at 691.002 (up 13%), while Audi sales including imports were up just 4,1% to 690.083.

China brands ranking 2019

Please note these figures are for locally produced models only (unless stated otherwise), they exclude imported cars, which make up only a small portion of sales in China.

Model 2019 2018 Change Share 2019
1 Volkswagen 3.100.498 3.129.743 -0,9% 14,6%
2 Honda 1.553.086 1.452.441 6,9% 7,3%
3 Toyota 1.409.198 1.295.002 8,8% 6,6%
4 Geely 1.220.832 1.387.258 -12,0% 5,7%
5 Nissan 1.174.030 1.177.705 -0,3% 5,5%
6 Buick 871.506 1.057.452 -17,6% 4,1%
7 Changan 787.878 851.361 -7,5% 3,7%
8 Haval 769.454 766.062 0,4% 3,6%
9 Hyundai 685.738 790.746 -13,3% 3,2%
10 Audi 620.001 620.300 0,0% 2,9%
11 Baojun 604.204 879.077 -31,3% 2,8%
12 Mercedes-Benz 595.486 513.108 16,1% 2,8%
13 BMW 544.500 465.044 17,1% 2,6%
14 Chevrolet 516.087 673.376 -23,4% 2,4%
15 BYD 451.246 507.127 -11,0% 2,1%
16 Chery 451.139 443.702 1,7% 2,1%
17 SAIC Roewe 426.128 479.156 -11,1% 2,0%
18 GAC 388.364 536.267 -27,6% 1,8%
19 Dongfeng 377.349 443.435 -14,9% 1,8%
20 Wuling 374.878 476.539 -21,3% 1,8%
21 BAIC 286.343 439.845 -34,9% 1,3%
22 Kia 283.307 390.109 -27,4% 1,3%
23 Skoda 278.378 352.000 -20,9% 1,3%
24 SAIC MG 269.751 257.555 4,7% 1,3%
25 Ford 232.555 383.485 -39,4% 1,1%
26 Mazda 224.977 274.735 -18,1% 1,1%
27 FAW 222.188 160.368 38,5% 1,0%
28 Cadillac 212.506 228.043 -6,8% 1,0%
29 Jetour 138.950 40.009 247,3% 0,7%
30 JAC 138.208 185.780 -25,6% 0,6%
31 Volvo 131.946 107.598 22,6% 0,6%
32 Mitsubishi 131.343 141.148 -6,9% 0,6%
33 Lynk & Co 128.066 120.414 6,4% 0,6%
34 Venucia 117.454 132.068 -11,1% 0,6%
35 Zotye 116.363 232.410 -49,9% 0,5%
36 Wey 100.043 139.486 -28,3% 0,5%
37 Hongqi 99.331 26.665 272,5% 0,5%
38 Jeep 72.956 124.514 -41,4% 0,3%
39 Peugeot 63.758 139.164 -54,2% 0,3%
40 SAIC Maxus 60.538 30.699 97,2% 0,3%
41 SWM Motor 53.286 57.388 -7,1% 0,3%
42 Huansu 52.336 153.083 -65,8% 0,2%
43 Citroën 50.279 113.867 -55,8% 0,2%
44 Jetta 49.089 0 New 0,2%
45 Lincoln (import only) 46.629 55.315 -15,7% 0,2%
46 Borgward 45.321 32.942 37,6% 0,2%
47 Hanteng 45.198 64.357 -29,8% 0,2%
48 Hawtai 39.790 120.640 -67,0% 0,2%
49 Ora 38.865 3.515 1005,7% 0,2%
50 Dorcen 36.534 8.156 347,9% 0,2%
51 Traum 36.375 21.795 66,9% 0,2%
52 Infiniti 35.035 28.868 21,4% 0,2%
53 Land Rover 33.839 40.481 -16,4% 0,2%
54 Leopaard 32.407 86.402 -62,5% 0,2%
55 Soueast 30.882 85.361 -63,8% 0,1%
56 Changhe 27.631 47.040 -41,3% 0,1%
57 Suzuki 26.405 53.121 -50,3% 0,1%
58 Brilliance 25.213 79.927 -68,5% 0,1%
59 Jinbei 24.437 19.106 27,9% 0,1%
60 Yema 23.955 36.089 -33,6% 0,1%
61 Qoros 22.968 62.252 -63,1% 0,1%
62 Nio 20.946 8.101 158,6% 0,1%
63 Cos 20.027 7.933 152,5% 0,1%
64 Jaguar 19.408 27.310 -28,9% 0,1%
65 Renault 18.281 50.109 -63,5% 0,1%
66 Xpeng 16.608 371 +++ 0,1%
67 Weltmeister 15.587 0 New 0,1%
68 Jiangling 14.869 56.193 -73,5% 0,1%
69 Acura 14.781 7.337 101,5% 0,1%
70 Lifan 13.189 58.240 -77,4% 0,1%
71 Geometry 12.662 0 New 0,1%
72 Landwind 12.555 18.800 -33,2% 0,1%
73 Haima 11.792 89.280 -86,8% 0,1%
74 Foton 10.328 15.932 -35,2% 0,0%
75 Karry 10.217 48.257 -78,8% 0,0%
76 Neta 10.006 1.206 729,7% 0,0%
77 Enranger (Yingzhi) 6.888 13.813 -50,1% 0,0%
78 Bisu 4.735 26.448 -82,1% 0,0%
79 Levdeo 3.387 0 New 0,0%
80 Great Wall 3.106 5.976 -48,0% 0,0%
81 VGV 3.053 0 New 0,0%
82 Sitech 2.914 0 New 0,0%
83 Yudo 2.566 7.343 -65,1% 0,0%
84 Zhidou 2.095 15.336 -86,3% 0,0%
85 Denza 2.089 1.974 5,8% 0,0%
86 Luxgen 1.947 9.362 -79,2% 0,0%
87 Qiteng 1.806 2.265 -20,3% 0,0%
88 Sol 1.639 0 New 0,0%
89 Everus 1.555 100 1455,0% 0,0%
90 DS 1.254 3.867 -67,6% 0,0%
91 Huasong 1.184 854 38,6% 0,0%
92 Zedriv 612 0 New 0,0%
93 Arcfox 599 588 1,9% 0,0%
94 Link Tour 485 710 -31,7% 0,0%
95 Fiat 23 269 -91,4% 0,0%

 

Sources: Manufacturers, Chooseauto

  1. 2016 – 2019: French brands totally & utterly obliterated. Sorry to see. Extra cynical: New Chinese brand show design clues from PSA products. Copy cats galore. On the other end of the scale: VW can do what it pleases. These intoxicated & addicted Chinamen flock the VW dealerships like there is no tomorrow.

  2. I’m also not happy seeing Chinese buying so many VWs, but I’m very happy to see how great Toyota and Honda are doing there. Let be honest, Chinese, American and Japanese market all together are responsible for about 50% of world car sales. If you are successful there, it doesn’t really matter how successful are you anywhere else and vice versa. About 80-82% of global annual Honda sales are on these three markets and Honda is fighting for 3rd place in annual brand ranking with Ford. On other hand Ford lost Japanese market years ago and now is losing the Chinese market, which may cost Ford 3rd place in 2020, despite ford is doing very well in Europe, where Honda sells only about 2-3% of its global sales. This fact only proves that European market, which actually is about 50 different markets, but not one single, is not big enough to make significat difference in the world of automakers. Why? Because every single country in Europe has specific needs, like Norway wants electric vehicles, Italy wants small vehicles, Germany wants more premium vehicles, England wants right hand drive vehicles, Russia wants big vehicles, because the gasoline there is very cheap, but France wants economical models, because gas there is expensive, countries from Eastern Europe want cheap models, because they are poor, Turkey wants locally produced models and so on. So basically Europe has a great variety of wishes, but can respond with very small amount of sales. Even the biggest market there – Germany – buys less cars than Japan. Even the king of Europe – VW – sells about 30% of all its sales in Europe and almost 50% of them in China!
    So being liked in China, USA and Japan really matters and if you are not, it may cost you a lot, even your exsitence.
    And talking particularly about China, Toyota made a huge mistake there in 2019. RAV4 had the chance to become only the 5th model in the history of world automanufacturing, which could be sold over 1 million times in one year (the rest 4 are – Corolla, Focus, Golf and F-Series) and RAV4 missed this chance by only 70 000 units, actually less than 70 000 units. The only reason for this is because Toyota introduced the new generation in China too late, at the end ot 2019. Shame on you, Toyota!
    PS: The obsession of Chinese over VW and its products is unexplained for me. Even the new brand “Jetta” sold so much in so little time. For years VW offers to Chinese old technologies and old models in shiny package and on low price and they literally buy it. Why?

    1. Why? Because China is still an up and coming economy meaning more and more people are able to afford a car albeit cheap which is in favour of VW.
      .
      Although legislation have changed a bit, the Chinese market is still a very closed one as foreign companies keep working together with Chinese partners. No wonder the Chinese brands produce better cars. They’ve learned a lot from the joint ventures and with the support of Chinese courts, they can continue copying others.

  3. What happened with Ford in the last few years? I remember of them being in Top 10 four years ago and now they are almost out of Top 25. Political reasons? Tariffs? Maybe. Also, PSA and FCA are lost in China, now they only have a strong presence in Americas and Europe, which is worrying for them in the event of a new world crisis.

  4. Part of VW China domination lies in the past: The brand was one of the first foreign car producers to enter the country (via the ubiquitous JV’s) and quickly gained critical mass. Also: From the outset, VW’s board has left no stone unturned to penetrate the highest echelons of Chinese decision makers. Chinese state-owned businesses or state-controlled institutions and departments by default opt for / shortlist VW Group products. Guess who takes delivery of the annual A4L and A6L production of 300.000 fully loaded units? Higher echelon civil servants, of which China has trillions. VW’s ultra solid Chinese foothold has made it seemingly immune for the emergence of Chinese brands, totally the opposite of what f.i. PSA had to endure: From 60.000 per month to 5.000 in Dec 2019.

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