China Full Year 2014: Growth cools to 7% to record 23.5m sales

Wuling Hongguang China September 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi.com2Emperor of China: the Wuling Hongguang clocked up a record 750,000 sales in 2014.

* See the Top 402 locally produced models, Top 10 LCVs and Top 66 brands *

One of the main news items in the 2014 automotive world is the cooling down of the Chinese new vehicle market’s growth. I’m stressing the word growth here, because a lot of analysts have dramatised this trend to such an extent over the past 12 months that they make it look like the entire Chinese market is cooling down. Not so, only its growth is – a very big difference, dropping by half from +14% in 2013 to +6.9% in 2014 according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. This means an additional 1.5 million new vehicles were sold in China in 2014 compared to 2013 – a little less than the entire French new car market, lifting the all-time record for any country in the world to 23.49 million units.

Segment 2014 sales /13 2013 sales
Sedan 12,376,700 3% 12,016,200
SUV 4,077,900 36% 2,998,500
MPV 1,914,300 47% 1,299,200
Microvan 1,331,700 -17% 1,613,700
Passenger Car total 19,700,600 10% 17,927,600
Truck 3,184,400 -9% 3,494,300
Bus 606,900 8% 561,900
Commercial Vehicle total 3,791,300 -7% 4,056,200
Market total 23,491,900 7% 21,983,800

An analysis by segment clearly shows the engines of growth in China in 2014. Microvans are down harsh 17% to 1.33 million units as Chinese consumers upgrade to larger MPVs for commercial use, and trucks are down 9% to 3.18 million sales, bringing commercial vehicle sales down 7% to 3.79 million units. If Passenger Cars are up a robust 9.89% year-on-year to 19.7 million units (vs. +15.7% in 2013), sedans are only up 3% to 12.38 million units. The only two segments pulling the entire Chinese market up in 2014 are MPVs up a spectacular 47% to 1.91 million sales and SUVs up an equally impressive 36% to cross both the 3 million and 4 million annual sales benchmark for the first time at 4.08 million units. Worryingly for local manufacturers though, the share of domestic brands continued to drop, now at 38.44% of annual sales, down 2.1 percentage points from a year earlier due to the weakness of the truck market where Chinese manufacturers have an almost monopoly on sales at home.

Haval H6 China 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.comThe Haval H6 is the first SUV to break the 300,000 annual sale-milestone in China.

Yes, it’s a cooled down growth rate, but let’s not forget the Chinese market only grew by 4% in 2012 on the back of Japan-China tensions and stricter licence plate allocation in first tier cities. Aptly, far from slowing its growth further in 2014, the CAAM predicts another year at +7% in 2015, bringing the overall market above 25 million units for the first time. Of this, 21.3m units will be light vehicles, up 8% on 2014 and once again pulled up by SUVs (+25% to 5.1m) and MPVs (+35% to 2.6m) while sedans (+1% to 12.5m) and microvans (-20% to 1.1m) will underperform again. Thanks to rising household incomes, vehicle buyers will continue to migrate from sedans and microvans to larger and more expensive vehicles such as SUVs and MPVs. Geographically, customers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are now buying their second vehicles, while those in smaller Tier 3 and Tier 4 are still buying their first vehicles, so there is still a very large potential for growth and, increasingly, renewal. A much more detailed forecast of the Chinese market will be published on BSCB shortly.

Hyundai Mistra China 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.comHyundai is the #3 brand in China, partly thanks to the success of the new Mistra (pictured above).

Keeping in mind that for now only detailed sales of locally produced vehicles are available, Volkswagen remains the most popular brand in this market by far with almost double the sales of the next most popular marque at 2.71 million units, outsmarting the market at +13% year-on-year. Thanks to the enormous success of its microvans and MPVs, local brand Wuling takes the 2nd spot with 1.4 million units, followed by Hyundai up 9% to 1.12 million. ChangAn is the second local brand inside the Top 4, here again thanks to successful microvans with sales just under the annual million units. Toyota (+11%), Buick (+14%) and Nissan (+2%) follow, with Ford, Honda and Chevrolet rounding up the Top 10.

BAIC Senova D50 China 2014. Picture courtesy of pcauto.com.cnBAIC Senova D50 – BAIC is among China’s Top 20 brands.

SUV-only brand Haval is up a stunning 53% to 429,328 units, Peugeot up 41% to 384,005, Audi up 25%, BMW up 34%, Baojun up 81%, Zotye up 62% and Fiat up 41%. Notice also the arrival of BAIC inside the Top 20, Great Wall down 47%, Brilliance down 27%, GAC Trumpchi up 36% and new SUV brand BAIC Huansu landing at #37. At 26,008 units, PSA’s premium brand DS finishes its first full year in market inside the Top 50 locally-produced brands.

GAC Trumpchi GA3 2014. Picture courtesy of hugcar.comGAC Trumpchi sales are up 37% year-on-year.

Stepping into the models ranking in China, there are 3 standout stars in 2014 and they are all Chinese. Firstly the Wuling Hongguang spends a 2nd consecutive month in pole position and improves its annual sales figure by an outstanding 67% on 2013 to 750,019, an all-time record for any passenger car ever on sale in the country, arguably mainly used as a commercial vehicle though. Seconly, after eclipsing 200,000 sales for its first full year of sales in 2013, the Haval H6 becomes the first SUV to cross the 300,000 annual unit-mark with 315,881 sales, up 45% year-on-year. The H6 spent almost all year breaking its monthly sales volume record (it did so 8 times in 2014 alone!) and is symbolic of the explosive growth the SUV segment is currently enjoying in China.

Baojun 730 China 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.netThe Baojun 730 is the fastest-ever nameplate to hit 30,000 monthly sales in China.

Symbolic of the even more impressive growth of MPV sales, in a matter of months the Baojun 730 has become the most successful launch in the history of automobile in China, hitting 12,006 sales in its first month, 21,016 sales for its 2nd month in market and 30,089 for its 4th month, making it the fastest-ever nameplate to reach both the 20,000 and 30,000 monthly sales mark. It is of course #1 new nameplate for the year at #43 with 120,089 sales and could pretend at a podium ranking over the Full Year 2015.

VW Lavida China 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comThe VW Lavida is the best-selling sedan in China for the 2nd year running.

Back to the top of the ranking to notice the VW Lavida (+12%) and Ford Focus (-3%) maintaining their respective Top 2 sedans spots, the VW Sagitar and Nissan Sylphy both edging past 300,000 annual sales in the last hours of the year, making it 6 nameplates above that threshold vs. none in 2012. The VW Jetta (+13%) comes very close to also reaching that milestone, while the Buick Excelle (-1%) is the only nameplate in the Top 10 to lose ground year-on-year. The VW Santana (+58%) enjoys the benefits of its first relaunch in 30 years, the VW Golf (+90%) makes it 9 VW models inside the Top 20, the Kia K3 is up 30% to #20, Honda Crider up 72% to spend its first full year at #26, Ford Kuga up 42% to #33, the Hyundai Mistra exceeds Hyundai’s expectations at 135,000 sales (vs. a goal of 120,000), the Toyota Vios benefits from the launch of the new model to multiply its sales by 4.5 to #36 and the Citroen C-Elysée is up 75% to #37.

Geely Emgrand EC7 China 2014Geely Emgrand EC7

Below the ultra-dominant Wuling Hongguang and Haval H6, the Geely Emgrand EC7 keeps its title of best-selling Chinese sedan at #24 overall despite sales down 14% and an assault from the ChangAn Eado, up 71% to #28. The Chana Honor MPV is up 51% to #32, the Dongfeng Future up 14% to #39, Dongfeng Joyear up 65% to #44 and BYD F3 back up 33% to #47. Further down, notice the Chery Tiggo 3 up 37% to #51, Tiggo 5 up to #58 for its first full year in market and the Dongfeng Fengguang MPV up 181% to #63.

JAC Refine S3 China 2014. Picture courtesy autov.com.cnThe JAC Refine S3 outsold all foreign SUVs in November.

64 new nameplates were spat out of local factories this year vs. 16 models discontinued for a net increase of 48 models ranked, bringing the total to 402. As a comparison, the net increase in both Europe and the USA is between zero and 5. Out of the 64 newcomers, 30 were SUVs, 38 were Chinese, and 19 were Chinese SUVs. The Baojun 730 is the only all-new nameplate in the Top 100, with the 2nd most popular nbeing the ChangAn CS75 SUV at #109 followed by the JAC Refine S3 at #115, Haval H2 at #116, Toyota Levin at #117, BAIC Huansu S3 at #119, Peugeot 2008 at #128, Chevrolet Trax at #130, BAIC Senova D50 at #134 and the Mazda3 Axela at #136.

Wuling Rongguang S China 2014The Wuling Rongguang is the best-selling LCV in China in 2014.

The Wuling Rongguang takes the lead of the LCV models ranking with sales up 2% to 345,102, while the Wuling Sunshine is down 32%, the Chana Mini Bus down 14% and the Foton Light Truck down 25%. The Wuling Mini Truck delivers the best performance in the Top 10 with sales up 25% to 219,466 units in 5th place, and we welcome the JMC Light Truck and Jinbei Light Bus inside the Top 10.

Previous post: China December 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago (PC): China Full Year 2013: Wuling Hongguang and VW Lavida on top

One year ago (LCV): China Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 10 best-selling LCVs

Two years ago: China Full Year 2012: Ford Focus triumphs

Full Year 2014 Top 402 All-local models, Top 10 LCVs & Top 66 brands vs. Full 2013 figures below.

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