China May 2017: Second consecutive month of decline at -2.6%

The VW Tiguan hits its highest ranking in two years at #6. Picture qq.com

* See the Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market is starting to really feel the effect of a 5% to 7.5% tax hike on vehicles with engine displacements up to 1.6L last January. For the second consecutive month, overall sales of locally-produced light vehicles are down, this time dropping 2.6% to 1.75 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The continued strength of SUVs and crossovers, up 12% to 719.455 units, isn’t enough to compensate for the other segments’ losses anymore. Sedans drop 9% to 840.661, MPVs are down 14% to 142.665 and microvans down 25% to 48.100. Most tellingly, sales of small engine vehicles (1.6L or less) affected by the tax hike are down 9.2% year-on-year to 1.15 million units, representing 66% of the overall light vehicle market. Thanks to a relatively strong first quarter, the Chinese market is still in positive year-to-date though, at +1.5% to 9.42 million units.

The Baojun 510 is inside the Chinese Top 10 for the 2nd month in a row. 

According to retail sales data released by manufacturers themselves and including imports (this differs from the wholesale locally produced data provided in our data tables), General Motors posts stable sales at 294.425 units this month and shows very varied fortunes for its stable of brands: Cadillac is up 65% to 14.154 – the brand’s 15th consecutive double-digit year-on-year gain – and Baojun up 47% (wholesales up 72%), but the remainder of the brands are down: Buick (-6.8% to 94.023), Chevrolet (-1.4% to 37.571) and Wuling (-19% to 84.602 including microvans). Reversely, the Volkswagen brand manages to gain 4% to 241.600 units thanks notably to surging sales of the Tiguan (+71%) and Magotan (+77%). Adding Skoda, Audi and Porsche should make the Volkswagen Group the #1 Group in China although official figures aren’t available at this stage.

The Civic helps push Honda Motor Co. up 16%. Picture auto.sina.com.cn

Honda Motor Co. remains the best-selling Japanese carmaker this month thanks to a 16% year-on-year surge to 115.584 units, edging past Toyota Motor Co. up 12% to 112.800 and Nissan Motor Co. up 5.7% to 112.085. Brand locally-produced wholesales show a different picture with Honda brand sales up 18%, Toyota down 5% and Nissan up 27%. Honda benefits from the new Civic up 191% while the XR-V is up 4% and both the Vezel (-13%) and CR-V (-25%) struggle. Nissan has the Sylphy up 3% and the Qashqai up 22%. Japanese carmakers are likely to have benefitted from a sudden anti-Korean sentiment stemming from U.S. anti-missile defences deployed in South Korea. Hyundai (-65%) and Kia (-67%) both crumble this month. Ford Motor Co. for its part is down 3% to 87.733, adding up to a 11% loss year-to-date to 436.961.

Geely Vision SUV. Geely sales are up 87% so far this year. 

The luxury ranking continues to be reshuffled with the BMW Group taking first spot this month thanks to retail deliveries up 27% to 50.996, thanks to strong sales of the 3 Series (+57%) and X1 (+29%). Daimler AG is just below at 50.015, up 32% thanks to the new E-Class (+385%). Audi slows down its fall now that the dispute with its dealers over a new sales channel – postponed – is over but trails both its German rivals at -4% to 48.012.

Geely remains the star of Chinese brands with sales up 66% to 76.616 and up 87% year-to-date to 437.359. The brand outsells Changan (-26%) for the second consecutive month. Great Wall Motors on the other hand posts a second consecutive drop at -3.8% to 68.942 including 58.390 Haval sold (-6%). GAC Trumpchi surfs on the tremendous success of its GS4 and GS8 SUVs with sales up 47% to 44.148 but Dongfeng (-10%), Beijing Auto (-29%), Chery (-4%) and BYD (-21%) all retreat. Roewe is revived (+140%) thanks to the RX5 and the i6 sedan beating its sales volume record at 7.148, Soueast is up 43% thanks to the DX3 crossover and MG is up 87% thanks to the ZS crossover.

The Compass is now Jeep’s best-seller in China.

There are a few additional notable performances in the brands ranking: Jeep (+122%) stabilising around 20.000 monthly sales now has the Compass as best-seller (8.300), Mazda is up 24% mainly thanks to additional sales from the CX-4 and Mitsubishi is up 110% on the new Outlander. Just as French long-time local producers Peugeot (-38%) and Citroen (-63%) falter, newcomer on the China production scene Renault is gaining momentum above 6.000 sales for the third consecutive month. This places Renault only 1.500 units below Citroen in May.

Renault Koleos. Renault (+221%) is now teasing Citroen (-63%). Picture auto.lctongcheng.com

The VW Lavida/Gran Lavida is the best-selling nameplate in China for the third consecutive month despite deliveries down 12%. It distances the Wuling Hongguang down 19% and the Haval H6 down 6% in a podium strikingly 100% in negative. The Nissan Sylphy (+13%), GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+22%) and VW Tiguan (+71%) follow, trying to compensate for these losses. The Baojun 510 beats its volume record once again at 24.108 units and remains inside the Top 10, confirming it has all but “killed” the 560 (-46%), and the Geely Boyue posts another stunning month at 21.142 units just outside the Top 10 at #11. Among recent launches posting strong results, the FAW Besturn X40 racks up 8.781 sales for its third month in market, the Chevrolet Equinox is up to 6.278 units and the VW Teramont up to 6.033.

Previous month: China April 2017: Market marks a pause at -3.7%

One year ago: China May 2016: Price cuts lift market up 11%, Wuling Hongguang back to #1

Full May 2017 Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models below.

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