Sales of domestic passenger cars in China were slightly down in December 2017 as expected after record volume in the same month last year. With a volume of 2,59 million sales, the volume was down by 0,4%, the third month of decline in 2017. On the positive side, this is the highest volume of the year, as consumers pulled forward their orders for small cars (engines of 1,6 liters or less), as the sales tax on these cars returned to their normal level of 10% as of January 1st, up from 7,5% in 2017. We’ll discuss the full-year 2017 figures in a separate post, and will focus on December here: the only segment to show growth was that of crossovers and SUVs again, although even their growth has slightly slowed down into single digits for the fourth time this year and the second consecutive month at +8,45%, while sedans lost 2,8% and MPV continued to struggle at -21,25%. Within those sales figures, sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids (New Energy Vehicles) jumped 60% to 168.000, or 5,6% of the market (including commercial vehicles).
The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate in December stood at 24,75 million, the lowest since July but still the fifth-highest of the year. The share of domestic automakers in December surged to a record 47,1%, up 2,6 percentage points on November and up 1,5 percentage points on December 2016. Sales of domestic brand vehicles across all segments were up 2,6%, compared to a gain of 1,45% for US brands, -0,5% for Japanese brands and -1,2% for the Europeans. In contrast, South-Korean brands extended their losing streak to a full year as they lost 21,25% in December, although that’s their lowest decline since February.
In the brands ranking, Geely is in 2nd place for the third month running, followed by Baojun making it 2 domestic brands in the top-3 for the first time ever as both brands set new monthly volume records. Buick in 4th place leaves the #2 for this year Honda down to 5th, its lowest ranking since last February. Hyundai is slowly recovering, back to 7th ahead of Changan, back down to #8. An exceptionally strong month with sales up 81% helps Zotye to land in a record 15th place in December, compared to 26th for the year. That makes the small manufacturer the #7 domestic brand ahead of powerhouses like Dongfeng (which still sold more than double Zotye‘s volume for the year), Chery, BYD and GAC. Other domestic big gainers are Hawtai, up 161% to 31st place thanks to its updated new Shengdafei (Santa Fe), SAIC Maxus up 155% thanks to the D90 SUV, Bisu up 112% thanks to the T5 crossover, and SAIC MG up 105% thanks to the ZS crossover and the new MG6 sedan. Among the smaller brands, Denza, the struggling Daimler-BYD electric car brand, celebrates its first 4-figure month. There are also some big losers: Haval is down 35%, a loss of almost 48.000 sales, which is not even by half compensated by the new Wey brand, scoring another 20.000+ month. Wuling is down 23,5% and Dongfeng and Chery also lose more than 20% of their volume.
Among foreign brands, Jaguar is up 140% as December is the first month of sales for the new XEL sedan, but its larger sibling XFL also hits a new monthly record. Jeep grows 45% top top 20.000 sales for the third time and setting a new volume record. Other big gainers are BMW up 34,5%, Mazda up 33% and Skoda up 25,5%. Losers are mostly the French and South-Korean brands: DS is down 80% to its second-lowest volume ever at a paltry 306 sales, Peugeot and Citroën are also down by more than 35% but that’s also because of relatively high sales in December 2016 as this was still their best or second best month of 2017 in terms of absolute volume. Kia loses 28,6% but also hits its highest volume of the year, and Hyundai is down 17,4% but tops 120.000 sales for only the fourth time ever. In contrast, Toyota has its lowest volume in 22 months and is down by 20,5%. Surprisingly, Cadillac is down for only the third time since it launched the XTS in 2013 and for the first time since March 2016.
We celebrate two entirely new brands arriving in China this month, with Lynk & Co, Geely’s upscale brand positioned between premium Volvo and its mainstream Geely brand, landing with its first 6.000 deliveries of the online pre-ordered units of the 01 SUV, and secondly Arcfox, the EV-only brand from BAIC with the premium-priced Lite citycar.
China brands ranking December 2017
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.
The entire top-6 ranking is similar to November, a very rare feat in a market as dynamic as the Chinese. Thanks to the addition of the Hongguans S3, the Wuling Hongguang family is back on top of the ranking for the second month in a row after relinquishing the top spot since April. The gap between the Haval H6 in second place and the Baojun 510 in third place continues to narrow and these positions could be reversed as soon as January. This is the 510’s best month ever by far, making this the most successul launch in China ever with over 358.000 sales in its first 11 months on the market. The Volkswagen Lavida is the best selling sedan again ahead of the Nissan Sylphy and Buick Excelle GT, the latter setting a new monthly volume record. The Baojun 310 goes from strength to strength and sets new ranking and volume records as it almost doubles up to also pass the 730 MPV to become the brand’s #2 seller. That means Baojun has 3 models in the top-10 for the second consecutive month, while no other brand has more than one.
The Geely Boyue also sets a new volume record (together with 5 other Geely nameplates) and returns make it 3 crossovers in the top-10, while the Volkswagen Tiguan, Buick Envision and GAC Trumpchi GS4 make it 6 in the top-15. The latter is back up again after 3 consecutive months of declines, but the Envision is struggling against increased competition in its third full year of sales. A rare bit of good news for the Koreans in this horrible year for them is that the Hyundai Tucson finishes 2017 with record monthly volume and ranking at #16, even outselling the Honda CR-V (#17), which has its second-best ever volume after April 2013. Alongside the Tucson, the ix35 (#65) which is still sold as a budget alternative and has even been renewed this year, reaches its highest volume since 2014. The Chevrolet Cavalier also sets a new monthly sales record and matches its top ranking at #20.
Outside the top-20, we have record monthly sales for the Nissan X-Trail (#21), Changan CS55 (#31) and a handful of Geely models: the Emgrand GS (#28) and Vision X6 (#41) as well as the three launches of this year: Vision S1 (#93), Vision X1 (#208) and Vision X3 (#77). In a rare bit of good news for BYD which has been struggling this year, the BYD Song MAX (#35) becomes the brand’s best seller in only its third full month of sales, with over 30% of total brand volume, and the #3 MPV in China. At Zotye, the two new launches of this year T300 (#63) and T700 (#44) both hit record volumes and alongside the T600 (#68) these three crossovers were responsible for nearly 63% of total Zotye sales this month.
Besides the aforementioned Lynk & Co 01 (#137) and Arcfox Lite (#387), we also welcome the Chery Tiggo 5X, Changan Raeton CC and GAC Trumpchi GM8 to the ranking this month. The Tiggo 5x (#78) immediately becomes the brand’s best selling crossover with over 10.000 sales in its first month, and completely obliterating the Tiggo5, down to just 265 sales in 409th place. The Trumpchi GM8 which is squarely aimed at the Buick GL8, lands at #376 with just 550 sales in its first partial month, a figure that will significantly grow in coming months, as the GL8 is at #70 with over 11.000 sales. The Raeton CC lands at 151, making it the brand’s second best selling sedan after the Eado (#101), which it’s supposed to replace. As mentioned above, Jaguar has started local production of its second sedan, the XEL which is a long wheelbase version of the XE as we know in the rest of the world.
Notable recent introductions that we haven’t yet mentioned above are the Wey VV5 at #76 and Wey VV7at #80, both spending a second month running at 10.000+ sales, and the same can be said of the Volkswagen Teramont (#82), although the latter does not improve its volume record as the two Weys do. The Venucia D60 (#86) enters the 5-figure territory in its second month of sales, now almost at 50% of total brand volume. The Roewe RX3 enters the top-100 in its third month of sales and becomes the brand’s #2 model, and the funky EV Baojun E100 jumps to #147 with over 5.500 sales, up from its previous best of 1.915.
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