China car sales analysis May 2015

The cool-down of the Chinese auto market continues in May, with an increase of just 1,2% for the total market and 4% for locally produced cars, for a total of just over 1,5 million sales. Year-to-date, 8,6 million vehicles have been sold in China, of which 500.000 imports (not included in the figures below) and 8,1 million locally produced models. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate (SAAR) for locally produced cars is up to 19,4 million units, from 19,1 million last month. May 2015 had 2 fewer sales days than the same month last year, which explains some of the decline.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Volkswagen_Lamando-sedanThe shift towards SUVs and crossovers keeps becoming more apparent, as sales of sedan models were down 10% to just over 900,000 vehicles, while sales of SUVs were up a whopping 44% to almost 460.000 units. MPV sales were up 8% to 140.000 units. The slowdown occurred despite several brands cutting prices of across their line-up, most notably General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Hyundai. Despite these cuts, GM saw flat sales at Buick and a decline of 24% at Chevrolet, while Ford was down 8,7% and Hyundai slipped 12%. Volkswagen was also down 12%, as the brand is hurt by its failure to respond quickly to changing consumer preferences, offering just a line-up full of sedans but just one locally produced SUV, while Chinese automakers are launching a handful of new, low-priced SUVs every month.

Even premium brands were not immune to the downward trend in Chinese car sales. BMW posted its first monthly decline in China in a decade, with sales of all BMW brand vehicles down 5,5% to 34.870 vehicles (local production of the 3-series L, 5-series L and X1 was down 7,5% to 21.995) compared to an exceptionally strong May 2014, while Mini sales was up 18% to 2,587. Luxury leader Audi also saw its first decline in more than two years, with sales down 1,6% to 47.410 in its biggest market worldwide. Auto-sales-statistics-China-Mercedes_Benz_GLA-SUVSales of the Chinese-made A3, A4L, A6L, Q3 and Q5 were down 11% to 41.760 units. Mercedes-Benz continued to close the gap to its biggest rivals, with sales increasing 20% to 27.562 units, thanks to an increase of 57% for the locally produced models. Sales of the C-Class L, E-Class L, GLK, Viano, Vito and the all-new GLA improved to 16.351.

The smaller luxury brands had similar diverse fortunes. Cadillac increased 11% to 6.592 (local production: up 67% to 4.096), Infiniti was up 50% to 3.969, of which 2.634 units of the locally made Q50L and QX50, and Porsche sales (import-only) jumped 70%, but Volvo’s China sales fell 2% year on year 6.967 cars despite local production up more than tenfold to 5.399 as production of the S60L, XC60 and XC Classic started in Q3 of 2014.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Haval_H6-SUVModel-wise, the success of SUV and crossover models in China is underscored by the impressive performance of the Haval H6, which manages to climb into the overall second place, not too far behind the traditional leader, the Wuling Hongguang minivan, down almost a third. With the upcoming H6 Coupe, Haval has a good chance of scoring one or more monthly victories later this year, which would be a revolution in China. Great Wall, owner of the Haval SUV brand, sold just 6.289  sedans under its namesake Great Wall brand (-43%), compared to 51.456 SUVs with a Haval badge (+74%).

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Brilliance_V3-SUVOf the 14 Chinese models in the May top-50, 10 are SUVs, and the Chinese manufacturers keep pumping out new models every month. This month, we welcome the Brilliance V3 as the smaller sibling to the V5, and in its first month on the market it straightaway becomes the brand’s best selling model by far. A similar trend at GAC Trumpchi, where the all-new GS4 takes no less than 60% of the brand sales in its first month of sales.

Auto-sales-statistics-China-Nissan_Sylphy-sedanThe Nissan Sylphy is the best-selling sedan this month, for the first time since its introduction. It is helped by the fact that Volkswagen Lavida sedan sales are counted separately from those of its all-new hatchback version, the Gran Lavida (#62), and that the Ford Focus no longer includes sales of its previous generation as well, which is now replaced by the Escort.

You can also use the dropdown menu at the top right of this website to find brand-specific and model-specific auto sales in China of every model and brand since 2003.

Keep in mind, the data I use is only comprised of locally produced models and excludes imported models, unless noted otherwise.

Chinese car model ranking May 2015

[excel_table fname=”China-auto-sales-2015-May”]

Chinese car model ranking January – May 2015

[excel_table fname=”China-auto-sales-2015-Jan-May”]


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