After 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.
The 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.
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. DS is another of only three European brands to improve in July, with sales up 45%. And contrary to the trend, this is not because of its crossover sales. The DS6 SUV even has its worst month of the year, below 1.000 units, but the DS 5LS sedan has its best month of the year, topping 1.000 units. The DS5 is all but dead at just 7 sales in the month. Volvo pushes its sales of locally produced models more than tenfold after adding three models this year. The XC60 is the most successful, but the S60L isn’t far behind. The XC Classic, a first-generation XC90 sells less than 100 units a month.
Fiat was down 17% in July, which isn’t even that bad considering sales of the Viaggio and Ottimo are down 45% year-to-date. Volkswagen sales plunged 30%, which means the brand lost 70.000 units of volume in a single month. Year-to-date, VW sales are down almost 10%. Likewise, Skoda and Peugeot are both down 27% in July and Citroën sank almost 42% as the C3-XR crossover couldn’t offset big losses of the brand’s sedan line-up. All models had their lowest volume of the year, with the exception of the C4L which did worse only in February.
Porsche, which only imports models and has no local production, sold 4.534 cars in July, an increase of 6,2%. Year-to-date, Porsche sales are up 41% to 33.161 cars.
The Koreans didn’t do much better than that, with both Hyundai and Kia losing more than 30% of volume when compared to July of last year. Both are down into negative territory year-to-date as well. At Kia, sales of the Forte, K3, K5 and both Sportage versions all more than halved, while the KX3 small crossover had its lowest volume since its introduction in March. At Hyundai, the Verna plunged 60%, while combined sales of the all-new ix25 small crossover and the ix35 midsized crossover were barely enough to top last year’s volume of the ix35 by itself. Now that’s killer cannibalization!
Chevrolet had a month to forget, at -43% as sales of the Aveo all but came to a halt, while Cruze and Malibu volumes were halved and the Trax lost two thirds of its volume. Year-to-date, Chevrolet is down 15,5%. Cadillac was up 54% in July thanks to the addition of the ATS-L, but with less than 4.000 sales of locally produced models, Cadillac doesn’t make up for the loss of 22.500 units of volume at Chevrolet.
So if most of the foreign brands showed big losses, who did well in July? Chinese brands did, though not all of them equally. But those who have just introduced new crossover and SUV models scored big time.
Baojun sales were up more than tenfold, as the 730 MPV continued to sell extraordinary well and the 560 SUV landed straight into the July top-50 at #43 with 9.158 sales in its very first month! Likewise, Beijing Automotive (BAIC) sales surged 125% in July thanks to the new-for-this-year Beijing Huansu S3 crossover, which generated 45% of the brand’s volume this month. But some brands are even more reliant on just one all-new model. Take Brilliance for example, the V3 small crossover makes up 53% of the brand sales in July, helping Brilliance to a 40% increase for the month. Similarly, JAC is up 173% thanks to the Refine S3 crossover, which also accounts for 53% of brand sales. At MG, the GS crossover takes 63% of sales. And what about GAC Trumpchi? In its third month of sales, the GS4 crossover accounts for 89% of sales for the brand. The slightly larger (and older) GS5 is down to just a tenth of its volume of last year, so cannibalization surely plays a part, but still the brand is up 143% this month. At Leopaard, the CS10 also carries the brand at 88% of total sales, and at Yema, the T70 is at a similar percentage.
BYD is less dependent on a single model, and has much more stable sales, at +0,8%. The Qin plug-in hybrid has sold more than 4.000 units for the second straight month, while the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV sold 723 units in its second month of sales. Sales at Chery were down 12% as the model lacks a fresh range of crossovers, with the Tiggo 3 and Tiggo 5 both down due to intensified competition from newer models. Sedan-heavy FAW and Haima see their sales plunge 46% and 50% respectively, while Geely counteracts this trend with sales up 43% thanks to healthy sales of its EC7 Emgrand and FC Vision sedans, as well as its flagship GC9 sedan.
Lifan sales are down 9% in July, as none of its sedan and MPV models top 1.000 units, while the X50 and X60 crossovers now account for 60% of brand sales. Great Wall has decided to focus entirely on SUVs with its Haval brand, which is up 26% in July, the lowest score of the year as Haval is up 73% year-to-date. Meanwhile, the namesake Great Wall brand is down 65% to less than 3.000 sales in July, compared to almost 39.000 sales for Haval.
Wuling suffers from internal competition by Baojun, its sister brand within the SAIC-GM-Wuling Joint Venture, as the country’s best selling car the Wuling Hongguang MPV is down more than 40%. The volume lost by the Hongguang is almost exactly the volume added by the Baojun 730 MPV.
New model introductions to the ranking this month are the aforementioned Baojun 560 SUV with an impressive 9.158 sales, the Roewe 360 sedan with 174 sales, and the Foton Sauvana SUV with 64 sales. And then there is of course the launch of an all-new brand to the Chinese car market: Enranger, a brand from automotive supplier Weichai, known to most of you as a sponsor of the Ferrari F1 team. Enranger (or Yingzhi in Chinese), has been smart enough to launch an SUV as their first product: the Enranger G3, and 1.043 sales in their first month of sales isn’t all that bad. Especially considering the other local brand that was launched this year, Huasong, has only sold 128 cars in four months on the market, and exactly zero car in July.
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