Get ready to see some sales records shattered again: in November the Chinese car market broke its 11-month old record of 2,38 million sales in a single month by 150.000 units to over 2,53 million sales, an increase of 19,6% on last year’s November, which happened to be the first time Chinese car sales topped the 2 million sales milestone. It also means that China has broken 2015’s full-year record of 20,18 million sales already in November, as the year-to-date tally now stands at 21 million sales in 2016. Again, the purchase tax cut on vehicles with an engine of 1,6 liters or less fueled the market, as the central government still hasn’t decided (or at least made public) whether to extend the tax cut into 2017. If they keep this up, next month could be yet another monster month, breaking this month’s record again. Regardless of the outcome, pulling forward these car sales will have a moderating effect on the first few months of 2017, as analysts uniformly agree the next two years will see Chinese car sales plateau. Then again, analysts have been predicting this scenario for a few years now, and they keep getting proven wrong as the Chinese auto market has continued to grow sharply against all odds.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate again hit a new record in November at 26,4 million units. Sales of crossovers and SUVs shot up 41% to 1,02 million units, while deliveries of sedans increased 10% to 1,28 million and MPV sales grew 8% to 235.700. The share of local brands dipped from their record of 44,35% in October to 42,42% in November, still above the average of this year, as year-to-date the local brands have a share of 40,67% of their home market, compared to just 37,66% over the full year 2015.
The earth-shaking news this month is the Haval H6, becoming the first SUV to break the 70.000 monthly sales barrier. In fact, it also broke the 60.000 sales barrier at the same time, as the model’s previous record stood at last month’s 56.667 sales. To make this performance even more impressive: exactly one year ago the H6 sold over 40.000 sales for the first time. It seems like nothing can stop the rise of this model, which also takes the crown of best selling car in China for the second time this year, after last April when it also outsold the perennial leader Wuling Hongguang. Undoubtedly, the price cuts earlier this year have helped the nameplate, as well as the addition of the H6 Coupe version (pictured). But this is not the only good news for Haval, as also the H2 and H7 improved once again on the sales records they set just last month. As a result, Great Wall’s SUV brand has for the first time sold more than 100.000 units in a single month, and its year-to-date figure now tops 800.000 sales, compared to 662.500 sales in all of last year.
Haval is not the only record breaker this month, a great number of nameplates improved their monthly volume records this month, including but not limited to the following models: the Buick GL8, helped by the new third generation and the addition of the top-of-the line Avenir model; the Cadillac ATS-L sedan at almost 5.000 units, over 3 times its sales in its home market USA; the Chevrolet Malibu at its highest in two years thanks to the new generation; the Honda XR-V tops 17.000 sales, while its sibling Vezel scored its second-best month ever at 16.500 sales, which makes it by far the best ever month for combined sales of the two models; the new generation Honda Civic at 11.600 sales; the Hyundai ix25 at almost 12.000 sales and the Tucson at over 21.000, its second time to top 20.000 in three months, a first for the model, including its predecessor ix35; the Infiniti Q50L at 1.950 sales; the Kia K2 and K3 both have their second best month ever, at over 20.000 and 26.000 sales respectively, while the KX3 almost hits 10.000 with a previous best of just over 8.300 sales; the Lifan Maiwei, topping 9.000 units for the first time, the Nissan Sylphy breaks 45.000 units and for the first time is the best selling sedan in China, if we combine the Volkswagen Lavida sedan and GranLavida hatchback (which also falls under sedans: non-SUV and non-MPV models). If we separate the VW models, the Sylphy has led the sedan segment a few times before; the Nissan Qashqai tops 15.000 sales for the first time; at Peugeot, the 408 sedan sells almost 12.500 units; at Skoda, we find record sales for the Octavia at 16.700, while the Superb at 6.700 hits its second-best ever score, after January 2013; Toyota breaks records with both its compact sedans, the Corolla at almost 32.000 and the Levin at 16.000, while the Highlander hits its best volume since December 2013 and the RAV4 scores a second-best ever month at 13.600 sales.
Among recent introductions, the Baojun entry-level hatchback 310 takes another big step, now topping 15.000 units in its third month of sales, while the Chevrolet Cavalier remains stable at just over 12.000 sales. That means the Geely Emgrand GL, a similarly priced but technically more advanced and arguably better looking rival, is closing in with 10.000 sales. Borgward is also stable, at around 5.000 monthly sales, as are the other two recently launched brands: Hanteng at a similar 5.000 sales for its X7, launched last month and SWM at just over 6.000 sales for the third month of sales of its X7. The Citroën C6 breaks through the 1.000 monthly sales for the first time, while the Honda Gienia and Avancier both top 3.000 in their second month, as does the Peugeot 4008. The Mazda CX-4 keeps improving, now at almost 6.800 sales, while the Mitsubishi Outlander hits 5.600 in its third month.
For the 7th time in 11 months Volkswagen grows slower than the overall market at +10%, and even sister brand Skoda does so for the first time since last March, at +13,7%. After two months of losses, Audi is back in positive territory again with sales up 7,8%. However, that still means its rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW continue catch up, at +17,4% and +10,6% respectively. Volvo grew 5,5% as the S90L is expected to show up in the ranking next month, and Jaguar sells over 1.400 units of the XFL. The Peugeot 4008, launched last month, helped the brand to its second straight month of single digit losses, after 9 months of double digit dips, but the situation at sister brand Citroën is heading the other direction: at -33,5% the brand shows the biggest loss in China to date and is back to its volume of November 2011. The big difference is that this means a 0,8% market share last month, versus a 1,8% share five years ago, because the market was less than half the size it is now. DS doesn’t fare much better at -24%, so PSA: act now or forever hold your peace. In its 9th month of local production, Renault hits 5.500 sales, as the Kadjar is accompanied by the Koleos as its second model. Renault also imports the Captur, Fluence, Latitude and previous generation Megane (Coupe) RS, but these figures are not included as we only have data of locally produced models.
Cadillac and Jeep keep breaking monthly records, now topping out at 13.600 and 13.800 sales respectively as the former looks set to more than double its volume this year and break through the 100.000 sales milestone, while the latter has already passed that mark in only its first year of local production. The other American brands all lose market share: with just a 2% increase, Buick’s 15-month double digit winning streak is over, as its models mature. Buick drops from #2 brand to #5 this month. The new generation GL8 is not helps the brand avoid a volume loss this month, as the venerable Excelle and the soon-to-be replaced Regal are taking the biggest hits. Chevrolet is heading in the opposite direction, after ending its losing streak last month, the brand racks up an 8,8% increase in November, thanks to the new generation Malibu. The new Cavalier continues to cannibalize the Cruze as combined sales of the two models are still down on last year. Ford also grows slower than the market at +10,7% as sales of its crossovers and SUVs stabilizes and growth comes from the Escort and Focus sedans.
For the first time Honda has sold more than 1 million locally produced cars in China in a year, and it has done so with a month to spare. Honda also passes Changan in the year-to-date ranking to #3 best selling brand. Sales in November were up 30,3% again as almost its entire line-up improved. Nissan grew 18% last month as Toyota was left behind again with a 6% increase. As we’ve seen several times already this year, the much smaller Mazda is the biggest winner of the Japanese brands,a t +47,7% thanks not only to the new CX-4, but a combined effort of all of its models showing gains. Local production of the Outlander has breathed life back into Mitsubishi, almost doubling up on its volume of last year as the Outlander is now the brand’s best seller. After losing two thirds of its volume in Q1, Mitsubishi is now back to -10,5% year-to-date and could finish in the plus this year, an amazing comeback from a brand I presumed almost dead just half a year ago. The same can’t be said of Suzuki, which loses 18,7% again and is down by a similar figure year-to-date. Infiniti has its second-best month ever after last December but is still growing much slower than the overall market.
Like the Americans, the South Korean brands are growing, but still losing market share as the market as a whole grows faster. Hyundai is up 15,4%, mostly thanks to the Elantra Lingdong, as the new Verna in its second month of sales tops 15.000 but combined sales of the old and new generation are barely up from last year, the same goes for the Tucson and ix35. Sister brand Kia is up 13,5% despite record sales for some of its models as mentioned above.
We’ve mentioned the success of Haval already above, but we hadn’t yet mentioned it was China’s best selling domestic brand in November, passing Changan (despite sales of the latter up 28,9%) by a fair margin. And there’s another Chinese automaker shattering all its own records: Volvo owner Geely. It has overhauled a large part of its line-up in recent months, introducing attractive design and modern technology at an affordable price. As a result, the brand grew 81,6% in November to top 100.000 monthly sales for the first time ever, as it had 6 nameplates that sold more than 10.000 units, five of which broke their own sales records for the second month in a row. In November, Geely was close behind Changan in the brand ranking, and year-to-date the brand is up 40,9% to almost 668.000 sales. Rising star Baojun is up 55,9% to #4 local brand, and Chery (+54,2%), Zotye (+50,8%) also add over 50% of volume. SAIC Roewe, helped by the RX5 crossover almost triples up at +170%.
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