* See the Top 70 All China-made brands and Top 380 All-models by clicking on the title *
After a month of February weakened by the Lunar New Year celebrations, the Chinese new car market is back to double-digit year-on-year gains in March with sales up 10% to 2.06 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, lifting the first quarter total up a very dynamic 7% to 5.67 million units. Once again, crossovers and SUVs are the main force driving the market with deliveries soaring 45% to 693.100 units, while MPVs surge 18% to 234.200 thanks to a series of new models hitting cruising speeds. On the other hand, sedans are down again at -3% to 1.04 million units and microvans are soon to be a thing of the past at -28% to 89.600 sales. 1.46 million cars with engines at or below 1.6L were sold in March or 71% of the passenger car total, a similar percentage of that of the previous two months, showing that the market is still boosted by the halving of the purchase tax for these vehicles by the government last October.
The overall market is up 9% to 2.44 million and up 6% so far in 2016 to 6.53 million units, on a course to hit a record 26 million sales by the end of the year. Group-wise (figures include imports and LCV and differ from the brands table below), Volkswagen Group improves by 4% to 328.000 sales in March and up 6% to 955.500 cars year-to-date, lagging behind archenemy General Motors up 0.2% to 963.652 units despite sales down 0.6% in March to 296.939. Chevrolet deliveries are down 19% to 33.320 while Buick is up 3% to 72.886 and Cadillac up 14% to 7.588. GM’s two low-cost brands in joint-venture with SAIC fare on two opposite ways of the spectrum: microvan specialist Wuling is down 11% to 138,079 units and its best-seller the Hongguang down 17% to 55.924 units, now threatened for #1 overall YTD position by the VW Lavida (167.156 vs. 159.555). Baojun on the other hand is up 110% to 72.069 sales thanks to the incredible success of its 560 SUV (see below).
Ford Motor Co is up 5% to 114.788 sales thanks to the success of its recently-expanded SUV lineup (+29% to 26.732 sales), Nissan Motor is up 0.5% to 110.200 units, Toyota Motor is up a whopping 41% to 100.500 sales and Honda Motor up 15% to 97.004. Year-to-date, Toyota is up 28% to 291.000 sales, Honda up 11% and Nissan up just 0.8% to 298.000. In the luxury aisle, Audi’s leadership is threatened: the German brand sold 139.540 units so far in 2016, or a 5% increase year-on-year. In comparison, BMW is up 11% to 127.105 and Mercedes is up 36% to 106.641 (+27% to 38.133 in March). Up one notch in prestige, Porsche sales are up 24% to 16.409 units thanks to the continued success of the Cayenne and Macan. Note Mercedes sales include Smart and BMW deliveries include Mini and Rolls-Royce.
Among Chinese manufacturers, both Geely and Great Wall Motors underperform vs. the market at +3% each. What’s worse is that these meagre increases were secured on the back of steep price cuts. On March 12, Great Wall cut the price of its best-selling nameplate, the Haval H6, by more than 10%: the third price cut for the model, which now starts at 88.000 yuan (US$13.600). Great Wall is pushing hard to keep the H6’s title of best-selling SUV in the country: even though it post a new monthly volume record at 46.075 units (+47%), the H6 is under threat from the Baojun 560, also lodging a new all-time high at 42.077 in March. For comparison, the Baojun 730 MPV’s highest monthly volume is 47.690, reached last December. Note Haval is only up (+15%) thanks to the H6, with the rest of its lineup in decline: most notably the H1 is down 4% and the H2 down 33%.
In the China-made brands ranking (excluding commercial vehicles), Changan manages to hold onto the 2nd spot overall with 104.913 sales (+7%), holding off – in this order – Hyundai, Toyota, Buick, Honda, Ford and Nissan, all above 85.000 units and all bar Hyundai delivering double-digit year-on-year gains. Baojun (+110%) is the #2 Chinese passenger car brand above Haval (+15%), Wuling (-18%) and Dongfeng (-0.1%). GAC Trumpchi (+179%), Brilliance (+70%), MG (+61%), Zotye (+36%), Landwind (+335%) and Changfeng (+704%) deliver spectacular gains solely thanks to their SUV lineup. Also of note is the precarious situation of Lifan, down 77% year-on-year in March and 78% year-to-date, with only the Lotto MPV (+23%) keeping its head above the water, whereas even the brand’s SUVs implode: the X60 is down 73% and the X50 down 88%. Finally, French carmaker Renault makes its very first appearance inside the China-made brands ranking – we analyse this in our All-new models focus update.
Over in the models ranking, the VW Lavida manages to stay at #1 for a second consecutive month thanks to its recent refresh with sales up an impressive 36% to 56.557. A handful of other VW models also perform exceptionally well this month, confirming that the emissions scandal effect has passed in China: the Sagitar is up 46% to #6, the Tiguan and Golf are both up 19%, the Lamando is up 186% to a best-ever 16.452 units and the Magotan is up 80%. On theatre hand, the Santana is down 4% and the Bora down 16% ahead of its own refresh hitting Chinese dealerships in April. After a very shy start of 2016, the Nissan Sylphy is back up where it belongs at #5 with 33.266 sales (+30%), the Toyota Corolla is up 62% to 30.075 units and the Buick Excelle GT up 35% to 28.194 but the Ford Escort is down 3% to #13, yet still ahead of the Focus (#18).
The SUV category is once again dominated by Chinese fares: below the Haval H6 and Baojun 560 we find the GAC Trumpchi GS4 lodging another very impressive month (28.051) and accounting for a monopolistic 93% of the brand’s sales in China, the Changan CS75 (22.037) and JAC Refine S3 (20.097). Almost exactly at the same level, the VW Tiguan (18.405) and Buick Envision (18.399) are the most popular foreign SUVs. Below, notice the Hyundai Tucson brilliantly breaking its personal best at 15.201 sales, the Zotye X5 now the brand’s best-seller at 11.031, the Beijing Auto Senova X25 posting its first 5-digit monthly volume at 10.126 and the Landwind lineup doing the same (10.001) thanks to the success of its Range Rover Evoque clone, the X7. Produced locally since last November, the Jeep Cherokee is getting close to hitting the same milestone with a record 9.004 sales this month. Finally, let’s single out the Changfeng Leopaard CS10 taking the brand to new heights: up to a best-ever 8.065 sales.
The MPV segment (+18%) is only gaining ground because of clones of its best-seller the Wuling Hongguang hitting cruise speed. The Hongguang itself is down 17%, the Baojun 730 is down 6% and steps out of the Top 10 for the first time since last November and the Chana Honor is down 13% to #19. In contrast, the Dongfeng Fengguang 330/370 is up 9%, the Beijing Auto Weiwang M30 is up 2% to 14.355, the Changan Oushang posts its first 5-digit sales figure only four months after launch (11.164), the Karry K50 does the same at #66 (10.904) and both the Beijing Auto Huansu H3 (7.511 deliveries in its 6th month) and the Dongfeng Fengxing S500 (7.060 in its 4th month) deliver robust performances.
Among other recent launches, the Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 is up 269% on its February score to 4.055 sales at #134, the Changan CS15 takes off at 3.339 sales (#146) after two months of double-digit pre-sales, the Zotye SR7, an almost picture perfect clone of the Audi Q3, progresses to 3.087 units from 1.536 during its initial month in market in February but the Chevrolet Lova RV is stuck outside the Top 200 with just 1.144 sales. After a respite last month due to the Lunar New Year holiday, the Chinese market has absorbed no less than 12 new China-made nameplates in March. We analyse them in detail in a separate update.
Previous month: China February 2016: VW Lavida #1 but 8 in Top 12 are Chinese
One year ago: China March 2015: Ford Escort in Top 10, outsells Focus
Full March 2016 Top 380 All China-made models below.