China June 2015: First monthly year-on-year decline in over 6 years

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China June 2015The GAC Trumpchi GS4 sells 10.723 units for its second month in market.

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This is it. I have been correcting numerous analysts describing a “slowing down” of the Chinese market over the first half of 2015, saying that it was instead the growth rate that was slowing down, not the market as a whole. Until this month. In June, sales of new light vehicles in China are down 3% year-on-year to 1.51 million units, the first monthly sales decline since December 2008, while total all-vehicle sales are down 2% to 1.8 million deliveries. In June, only SUVs stayed afloat with sales up a gargantuan 38% on June 2014 to 448.200 units while MPVs are now down 1% to 126.000, sedans down a harsh 15% to 846.200 deliveries and microvans down 22% to 91.000. The year-to-date total is still in positive halfway through 2015 at +5% to 10.10 million light vehicles while sales of all new vehicles (including buses and commercial trucks) are up just 1% to 11.85 million units.

Toyota Corolla China June 2015. Picture courtest of xgo.com.cnThe Toyota Corolla is up 3-fold year-on-year to #3 overall with 25.685 sales.

Select manufacturer results show very different evolutions. General Motors saw its sales go up just 0.4% to 246.066 units despite price cuts of up to 20%, whereas for the Volkswagen Group it is a nightmarish month: sales are down 17% year-on-year to 250.000 sales with the VW brand down an abysmal 22% and Skoda down 15%. Ford sales are down 3% this month to 83.506 deliveries. The luxury market sees Audi drop 6% to 47.831 units, BMW up just 0.2% to 40.200 and Mercedes surge 38% to 32.507 sales. Japanese manufacturers are holding the right end of the stick: Toyota announced sales up 42% for June at 100.600 units, its largest year-on-year gain since February 2014, Honda is up 26% to 73.381 sales on the back of blockbuster results for the XR-V/Vezel twin baby SUVs, Mazda is up 14% while Nissan’s gains were a much more modest 0.1% at 93.600 deliveries.

Ford Kuga China June 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.comThe Ford Kuga sells a record 16.068 units this month.

In the models ranking, the Wuling Hongguang reclaims the lead off the VW Lavida despite losing more ground year-on-year at -29% vs. -17%. The Toyota Corolla is up a meteoric 216% due to a transition month between two generations a year ago to land directly in third place with 25.685 registrations, its strongest monthly result so far in 2015. Note that with the Levin (12.382) and Corolla EX (3.623), total Corolla sales add up to a stunning 41.690 units which would earn it the overall pole position by far (Hongguang: 36.310).

Nissan X-Trail China June 2015. Picture courtesy auto.qq.comAll-time record 15.558 sales and 19th place for the Nissan X-Trail.

The Nissan Sylphy is solid in 4th place, the Haval H6 and Baojun 730 both recede two spots to #5 and #7 respectively and the Buick Excelle GT is boosted by its facelift to #9. If the VW Tiguan is up 11% to a splendid 6th position, the Polo up 39% to #15 and the Passat up a timid 1% to #20, all other 6 VW nameplates placed in the Top 40 display double-digit year-on-year drops: Lavida (-17%), Jetta (-22%), Santana (-30%), Sagitar (-39%), Golf (-16%) and Bora (-41%). Ford compensates the freefalling of the Focus (-42%) by a very strong #14 spot for the Escort at 17.513 sales, while the Kuga is up 47% on June 2014 to a record 16.068 sales in 16th place and the Edge is already above the bar for success we fixed at #70 and 8.000 units last month at launch: up a spectacular 63 spots to #56 with 8.416 deliveries.

Ford Edge China June 2015Ford Edge

As described above, the SUV segment is the only one left to display year-on-year gains in June, and it shows in the models ranking. Belo the Haval H6, VW Tiguan and Ford Kuga, the ChangAn CS75 breaks its ranking record at #18 thanks to sales up 4-fold on June 2014 to 15.680, the Nissan X-Trail breaks into the monthly Top 20 for the first time at #19 with an all-time high 15.558 units (previous best: 14.121 last November), the Buick Envision remains solid at #23 as do the JAC Refine S3 (#27) and ChangAn CS35 (#28).

Honda XR-V China June 2015. Picture courtesy cheshi.com.cnThe Honda XR-V and Vezel twins add up to 21.000 deliveries in June.

The Honda XR-V (record 10.956 sales), BYD S7 (10.865) and Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (10.816) all stay at stratospheric heights, but the most impressive performance this month is arguably delivered by the GAC Trumpchi GS4: for its 2nd month in market it is up 66% and 36 ranks to a splendid 44th spot… Notice also the Honda Vezel at #46 (total HR-V/Vezel twins: 21.000 sales – equivalent to a combined 8th spot), Haval H2 at 10.010 units, the Zotye T600 up 102% year-on-year to #60 and the Brilliance V3 – the third SUV launched in May to improve drastically on an already very satisfying first month: up 36 ranks to #78.

Further down, the BYD Qin continues its unstoppable climb: up 16 spots on May and 281% year-on-year to a record #110 and 4.015 sales, the Mercedes GLA is up 69 ranks to #111, the Changfeng Leopaard CS10 up 80 to #135, Geely GC9 up 31 to #144 and VW Gran Santana up 119 to #188.

Buick Verano China June 2015. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cnBuick Verano

There are only two new nameplates making their entrance in the Chinese ranking in June, and they are all rather shy for now compared to the SUV launches from last month: the Buick Verano, introduced at this year’s Auto Shanghai, lands at #165 with 1.973 sales while the BYD Tang – the hybrid variant of the S7 – arrives at #272 with 412 units over one year after premiering at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show.

BYD Tang China June 2015BYD Tang

If the Verano should fine its way to the Top 50 very quickly, an arrival inside the Top 20 will mean some cannibalisation either from the Excelle and/or the Excelle GT. Much harder to predict the Tang’s career as this is an exclusively hybrid model. Beating the Qin sedan at its own game would open up a new trend towards energy efficient SUVs.

Previous post: China May 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Previous month: China April 2015: Wuling Hongguang, VW Group tumble in slow market

One year ago: China June 2014: Audi breaks record in market up 11%

Full June 2015 Top 366 All-local model Ranking Table below.

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