Car 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.
Buick had a fantastic start of the year, adding almost 40.000 sales in the first two months, an increase of 25,9%. Cadillac did even better thanks to the launch of the all-new CT6, helping the brand to a 70% increase. These performances were offset by a loss of almost 44.000 sales at Chevrolet, down 37% on continued big losses of the Malibu and Sail sedans and a lack of SUVs in the line-up. As a result, GMs American brands combined had flat sales. Ford did better with a plus of 12,3% thanks to the launches of the Taurus and Edge last year and Jeep sold an amazing 14.220 units of the Cherokee, after launching local production of the model in the last quarter of 2015. That puts the Cherokee not far from the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage R, and ahead of the aging Mercedes-Benz GLK.
The great divide between the large and small Japanese brand keeps growing, with Honda and Toyota showing double digit gains, while Nissan and Mazda had flat sales. When including sales of import models, Toyota edged past Nissan to become the best selling Japanese brand with 190.500 sales vs. 188.400 for Nissan. Honda stays third with 164.700 sales in the first two months. Contrastingly, Suzuki lost 11% despite the introduction of the Vitara crossover and is in danger of being passed by Mazda, while Mitsubishi is down a painful 71% as just the ASX had more than 100 sales in February and even it barely managed to top 1.000 sales. Luxury brand Infiniti now outsells Mitsubishi as sales of its locally produced models Q50L and QX50 improve 75%.
Hyundai and Kia both lose volume, with Kia down 10%, hurt by plunging sales of the Forte, K3 and K4 cars, which the Sportage R crossover is unable to offset. Hyundai does even worse, despite the new Tucson showing impressive sales. Those aren’t nearly enough to make up for losses of the Verna, Mistra, Elantra Yuedong and Elantra Langdon sedan.
Audi sales models are up 13,3% to 88.279 units in the first two months, which means it keeps losing share to Mercedes-Benz in the Chinese luxury market. Mercedes-Benz sold 46.972 vehicles, an increase of 48% while BMW sales dropped 16% to 40.756 units. All three also import cars and SUVs, which are not included in these figures. In total sales, Mercedes-Benz still trails BMW but is catching up quickly. Volvo had almost flat sales as demand moved from the S60L sedan to the XC60 crossover. Production of the S80L sedan has ended as the brand prepares to launch the all-new S90 as its flagship sedan in China. Sales of the French luxury brand DS are up 16% in the first two months, surprisingly thanks to rebounding sales of the DS5 and DS 5LS as the DS6 crossover loses 10% of volume. But PSA won’t be happy with its China performance so far this year, as Citroën is down 9% and Peugeot loses more than 20%. The C3-XR crossover is the only Citroën to improve as all of its existing sedans lose sales and the C4L and C5 come to a virtual stop in February. At Peugeot, the only model to increase sales is the 408 sedan, up 2,2%. The 3008 crossover is down just 0,6% and the 301 sedan loses 5,6%, but all others including the 2008 crossover lose at least a third of their volume. Fiat sales plunge even harder at -40%.
Volkswagen sales slow down 8,5% in January and February, as the Bora, Magotan and Passat sedans show double digit losses, as well as the soon-to-be-replaced Touran MPV and Tiguan crossover. The Gran Lavida also loses almost half of its volume, while the Gran Santana also has a slow start of the year, indicating that VW had better invested in crossovers and SUVs than in hatchbacks. The Lamando and Lavida are the only Volkswagen models to improve, although the former was still in launch mode last year. Skoda sales are stable as the Superb and Yeti take off but the Fabia, Rapid and Octavia lose volume.
Sales of Chinese crossovers and SUVs have been booming for a while now, so not much news there, but behind the already mentioned top-3 players, others are closing in on the overall top-10 as well now, with the Changan CS75 in 11th place and the JAC Refine S3 in 12th place (and 9th in February).
Unsurprisingly, the brands that have launched affordable crossovers in the last 12 months are also the biggest winners in volume. After Baojun, Beijing Auto adds the most volume from all the Chinese brands, benefiting from a product blitz in the last year as the Huansu S6, Senova X25 and Senova X55 crossovers and the Huansy H3 add almost 47.000 units to its volume in the first two months. GAC Trumpchi grows from 18.000 to almost 50.000 sales only on the introduction of the GS4, its only model with more than 1.000 sales in February. Similarly at JAC, its 4-model line-up of Refine crossovers now takes more than 95% of brand sales, after the Refine S2 was launched and the others continued to grow. That’s not the case at Brilliance, where the V3 crossover racks up 32.500 sales in two months, while the larger V5 drops from 7.600 to 2.000 sales. It still means the brand almost doubles its volume on last year, but it’s become too dependent on a single model, not a healthy long-term strategy. No brand is betting as big on SUVs as Great Wall, whose namesake brand is down to 2 models with just 2.600 sales between them, while its 7-model Haval SUV brand keeps growing, with over 124.000 sales in the first two months of the year, another 20% increase on its record year.
Contrastingly, Dongfeng grows on its MPVs, as the Fengguang 370 and Fengxing S500 are its most successful launches, while the Fengshen AX3 and Fengdu MX6 crossovers, as well as the Fengshan L60 and Joyear S50 sedans remain minor players so far. Meanwhile, Zotye is cranking out new models at lightning speed, with no less than five new models in the past six months, including two this month (see below): two electric microcars, two SUVs and one sedan. Although only the Damai X5 SUV has managed to make a mark volume wise, the brand still grows almost 58%.
Among the losers of the Chinese brands, Lifan suffers the most with sales down from almost 30.500 units to just 6.600 units as all of its existing models are down, but its SUVs X50 and X60 the most. BYD was hit hard in February as its best selling model the F3 was down harshly as customers awaited an upcoming facelift. FAW and Chery suffer from sedan-heavy line-ups, with just two crossovers each. At least for Chery, the Tiggo 3 and Tiggo 5 are the brand’s best selling models, sales of the FAW Besturn X80 and Jumper D60 have plunged this year.
Two of the new models this month have already been featured in the article on Chinese copycat design: the Zotye SR7 (1.536 sales) and the Changan CX70 (72 sales). Also new this month is the Zotye E200, a Smart-like two-seater electric car that manages 214 sales in its first month. The last new launch of the month is not an entirely new model, but an electric version of an existing sedan: the Geely Emgrand EV. As the gasoline-powered EC7 Emgrand manages over 14.000 sales in February, the EV version starts with a humble 200 sales.
Get all of the latest sales figures right to your inbox!
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.