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.
Please note these figures exclude import models, unless specifically noted.
Mixed results for the European car brands in China, with Mercedes-Benz showing the best performance at +53% to 32.763 sales including imports. Sales of locally produced models were up 130% to 25.251 as sales of all of the brand’s sedans and SUVs were up with double or triple digits. Mercedes still trails its biggest rivals Audi and BMW, but the gap is closing fast. Audi sales of locally produced models were flat while BMW saw an increase of just 1,7% as the BMW 5-series L outsold the Audi A6L for the third consecutive month. Volkswagen recovered slightly from its 30% drop lasts month with sales off 8% in August, the lowest drop since February. However at Skoda, the plunge is accelerating, with a drop of 28,5% as the Rapid and Superb suffered heavy losses. Even worse, Fiat was down almost 35% in August and 44% year-to-date, and DS also lost a third of its volume as the DS6 SUV doesn’t seem to gain traction in the crossover-crazy Chinese market.
Peugeot and Citroën slightly recover from their horrible sales last month to -12% and -24% respectively, with the Peugeot 3008 making up for losses of the 2008, while the attempt to sell a hatchback to the Chinese appears to stumble as the all-new 308S is stuck below 500 sales for the third consecutive month, while its sedan version 408 almost doubles its volume to over 9.000 units. At sister brand Citroën, the C-Elysee and C5 sedans take the biggest hit at -46% and -50% respectively. Volvo sees a 10% drop in its volume including imports to 5.574 sales, despite increasing local production from just 288 units of the S80L in 2014 to 4.238 units of the S60L, S80L, XC60 and XC Classic this year.
Similar to last month, the Japanese brands had mixed fortunes in August, depending on whether they have a sedan-heavy or an SUV-heavy line-up. Honda was once again boosted by its small SUV duo XR-V and Vezel, which reached a record 23.444 sales combined, and the former even outselling the larger CR-V to become best selling Honda. As a result, the brand improved 42% this month. Nissan was up as well, but a more modest 9%, as the newly launched Murano SUV sold over 3.000 units and surprisingly its sedans Sunny, Sylphy and Teana actually improved as well. Its luxury brand Infiniti was boosted by local production of its Q50L and QX50, but all the other Japanese brands suffered August losses. Mazda did relatively well, with a loss of just 1,4%, but Toyota took its biggest hit of the year at -20% or almost 15.000 lost sales, as the Corolla makes a huge plunge: from over 20.000 sales in each of the last four months to just over 8.000 sales in August. But the biggest drops for Japanese automakers in China are formed by Suzuki and Mitsubishi, with the former down almost 40% as the new Alivio can’t make up for losses of each of its existing nameplates, and the latter down a harsh 73% as the brand relies heavily on the ASX crossover, but that model suffers from increased competition from both Honda and the cheaper local offerings.
Big volume losses continued at the Korean manufacturers, with the only bright spot being that Hyundai actually narrowed its decline to -16%, Kia on the other hand plunged harder than ever before at -44%. Both brands continued to dive deeper into negative territory year-to-date. Sales of the Kia K3 crashed 70% and the K4 was the brand’s only model to show even a modest increase, besides the all-new KX3 small crossover, which has shown declining sales every month since its introduction in March. Its platform sibling ix25 now sells more than triple the volume of the KX3. The three versions of the Hyundai Elantra are down by half on last year, while the Verna is still down more than 50%.
Similar to the other foreign brands, the American brands showed mixed results, as Ford and Chevrolet continued to lose volume, but Buick recovered and Cadillac extended its winning streak. Ford narrowed its loss of July to just over 10%, as the all-new Edge SUV continued to improve, now at almost 8.000 sales in August. But the Fiesta is discontinued and the compact Escort and Focus appear to lose momentum. Chevrolet also virtually halved its July loss to -23%, with the Malibu down 40% and the Trax down 55%.
Buick benefited from continued strong demand for its Envision crossover, but especially from the Excelle XT and GT, which combined to become the best selling sedan model in China this month with just over 30.000 sales. That helped Buick increase sales 13,8% in August. Sales of the two locally produced Cadillac models, the XTS and new-for-this-year ATS-L improved 40% from a low base.
Again, the domestic Chinese brands in general showed resilience, especially those who have been introducing SUVs at lightning speed. The domestic share of the Chinese auto market improved to 36,7%, the best since April. The YTD share stands even slightly higher at 37,3%, which would be an absolute record if the locals can keep it up until the end of the year.
Baojun leads the pack again, thanks to the 560 SUV which jumps to the #12 position in only its second month of sales! The success of the 560 is one of the major reasons why so many other SUV models from both foreign and domestic brands are suffering losses this month. The 730 MPV also keeps momentum in 6th place. I expect the 560 to outsell the 730 sometime in the coming months. Beijing Automotive (BAIC) improved 23% in August on continued strong demand for its Huansu S3 crossover and the Weiwang M20 MPV. After two months of surging sales, Brilliance gets a wake-up call, as sales are almost flat in August, up just 2,6%. The new V3 small crossover continues to sell well and now makes up 58% of brand sales, but that’s because almost all of the other nameplates lose volume, most notably the slightly larger V5 crossover which is down 87% on last year to just 448 sales.
Despite the introduction of two new models (see below), BYD is down 17% this month, as its former best selling model the S6 SUV is due for a facelift. Sales at Changan are up 15% thanks to the CS35 and CS75 SUVs, and the former is now the brand’s best selling model for the first time. On the other hand, Chery reports a sales decline for the 7th time in 8 months, and its biggest of the year at -22%. The surprising culprits for the decline are Chery’s SUV models, the Tiggo 3 and Tiggo 5. Dongfeng suffers its first loss of the year at -6%, while FAW is down for the 7th consecutive month at -41% on a slowdown of its Besturn X80 SUV.
GAC Trumpchi sales are boosted by the GS4 crossover, which improves further in its fourth month on the market and still makes up 89% of brand sales. Geely is up 17% thanks to impressive gains of its facelifted FC Vision and a continued improvement of its flagship sedan GC9, now above 3.500 sales in its fifth month on the market. After plunging 50% last month, Haima stabilizes to record its first improvement since March, albeit slightly at 0,47%. Its SUVs S5 and Haima7 Qishi boosted the brand this month. Great Wall’s SUV brand Haval continued its impressive form at +44% and is up 68% year-to-date after doubling its line-up from 3 to 6 models. JAC does even better at +140% in August and +93% year-to-date thanks to its Refine SUVs, most notably the Refine S3 with its highest volume since March.
Leopaard and MG are both up 130% on strong crossover demand as the five month old Leopaard CS10 reports its highest sales volume, and the seven month old MG GS its second highest volume, while contrastingly Lifan is down a worrying 59% as its models suffered heavy losses across the board, including the only eight month old crossover X50. Mixed feelings at Qoros: the brand posts its highest year-over-year increase since March, but at just over 1.000 units of the Qoros 3 sedan and the Qoros 3 City SUV, that’s still a long way from their targets. After a 78% dip in July, Soueast posts its first monthly increase since January, at an impressive +53% thanks to the introduction of its first SUV, see below.
Enranger, the all-new brand from Weichai Auto, improved from just over 1.000 sales to 1.500 sales in its second month. Wuling narrows its July loss of 41% to 20% as the Hongguang, China’s best selling vehicle, continues to suffer from increased competition by most notably the Baojun 730. Meanwhile Yema is up almost fourfold as the Volkswagen Touareg lookalike T70 makes up over 90% of brand sales.
We welcome no less than six new models to the ranking this month, but only one of them sells in significant numbers so far. Soueast has introduced its first SUV, the Pininfarina designed DX7 Bolang, and as we’ve seen with similar introductions earlier this year, the new SUV not only immediately becomes the brand’s best seller, but in fact takes a huge share of sales, in the case of the DX7 Bolang it makes up 76% of all Soueast sales in only its first month!
Another newcomer is the Leopaard Q6, yet another remake of the second generation Mitsubishi Pajero to replace the Heijingang (aka Black King Kong), not exactly progress for a brand that showed it can develop attractive new models of its own with its CS10. The Q6’s 406 sales are also hardly better than what its predecessor sold in recent months.
BYD has launched two all-new models in August: the T3 is an all-electric minivan that obviously has taken design cues from the Nissan NV200 (28 sales), while the Song is a Plug-In Hybrid SUV smaller than the Tang and sold 35 units in its first month. BAIC launched the flagship sedan for its Senova Saab-based sub-brand, the Senova D80, which is actually based on the platform of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class L. It sold just 10 units in August. And the last newcomer is the Dongfeng Fengshen E30L, an all-electric minicar with 61 sales in its first month.
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