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With a very high base in November 2016 as customers rushed to benefit from the last couple of months of advantageous tax regime (5% on vehicles powered by engines 1.6L and under), light vehicle sales drop 0.03% year-on-year in China this month to 2.589.500 units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. It is the second time this year that light vehicle sales are down after last January (-1.1%). Note the tax, lifted to 7.5% in January 2017, will go up to 10% in January 2018. In the detail, passenger cars are down 4.9% to 1.229.961 sales, SUVs up 8.3% to 1.108.182 units, a new all-time volume record for the segment eclipsing the 1.089.565 of December 2016, MPVs are down 5.5% to 214.574 and microvans down 21% to 41.300. However truck sales are up 5.6% year-on-year in November to 313.600 units and bus sales up 18.3% to 54.600, lifting the total market up 0.6% to 2.957.600.
Year-to-date, sales of light vehicles in China remain at record heights with a 1.9% improvement to 22.041.400 units. This includes 10.648.000 passenger cars (-2.3%), 9.090.000 SUVs (+14.5%), 1.857.400 MPVs (-16.5%) and 495.200 microvans (-20%). Add to this 3.753.500 commercial vehicles (+14.8%) and the total market is up 3.6% year-to-date to a record 25.844.900 units. Chinese-branded light vehicle sales are up 5% to 1.186.200, representing a 45.8% market share up from 44.1% a year ago. Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars continue to greatly outperform the rest of the market with a 83% surge in November to 119.000 units, including 102.000 EVs (+75%) and 17.000 plug-in hybrids (+154%). Year-to-date, combined sales are up 51% to 609.000 units. The Chinese government is set to introduce a California-style carbon credit trading program in 2019 to force automakers to expand EV production, and expects EV sales to top 2.5 million by 2020. The market leader, the BAIC EC-Series, breaks a new volume record (15.719) as does the #2, the JAC iEV (5.660).
Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which differ from the data tables we provide further down in the article (locally produced wholesales), and the next few paragraphs are dedicated to these announcements – model sales remain locally-produced wholesales. Retail sales of the Volkswagen Group shoot up 15% year-on-ear to an estimated 429.000 with the Volkswagen brand up 16% to 331.100 (stable wholesales at 293.000), Skoda up 23% to 37.000 and Audi up 6.5% to 56.208 vs. 55.293 for BMW (+12%) and 50.813 for Mercedes (+22%). Year-to-date, Volkswagen Group retail sales are up 3.6% to 3.72 million while Audi remains in negative at -2.1% to 528.706. It looks like Audi will lose the #1 premium spot in China to BMW up 15% 542.362 with Mercedes in 2nd place at 539.728 (+27%). Model-wise, if the Lavida is back up from #11 overall in October to #3 this month, it loses the YTD top spot. The Tiguan is the only foreign SUV among the segment’s Top 8 best-sellers while the Teramont breaks its monthly volume record for the third month running, delivering its first 5-digit month at 11.238, as does the Skoda Kodiaq at 6.747.
General Motors also frankly outpaces the market with a 13% lift to 418.225 units, adding up to 3.55 million year-to-date (+3.3%), with Baojun retail sales distancing Buick for the first time at 113.711 (+52%) vs. 112.738 (+3%). Wholesales put Baojun at an all-time high 128.486 (+41%), the third consecutive all-time record, while Buick is up 2% to 125.037, its second best-ever result below the 128.049 of December 2015. It is the second time Baojun is above Buick wholesale-wise after last February. Buick is helped by new monthly records by its two MPVs the GL8 (14.332) and GL6 (6.892). Chevrolet retail sales are up 17% to 61.228 with a new record by the Equinox (7.592) and Cadillac is up 23% to 16.629 (new record for the XT5 at 6.100) whereas Wuling is down 6.3% to 113.919 but the Hongguang reclaims the top spot both in November and YTD despite 17% drops each way.
The big story here is, like last month, Baojun’s unprecedented success. Two nameplates break new volume records this month: the 510 SUV soars to 49.866 units and, as predicted last month, becomes the fastest nameplate to reach 300.000 sales in China (10 months), beating the Baojun 560 (11) and the Baojun 730 before it (12). For now, the title of best-selling new car ever introduced still goes to the Ford Fairmont with 405.780 units sold in its first 12 months in the US in 1978. But it doesn’t end here for Baojun: boosted by the new station wagon variant, the 310 surges 107% year-on-year to land at #10 with a record 31.022 sales, becoming the first Chinese passenger car to rank in the overall Top 10 since November 2013 (Geely Emgrand EC7) and only the second Chinese passenger car to top 30.000 monthly sales, the only other one being the BYD F3, last in March 2010 with 36.046 sales which remains to this day the Chinese passenger car monthly volume record. With the 730 back up to #7 in spite of a 28% year-on-year drop, Baojun displays three nameplates in this month’s Top 10, a first, vs. just two for Volkswagen.
The other Chinese brand to break records this year is Geely, and November extends the trend: the private company sees its deliveries soar 38% year-on-year to a best-ever 141.312 units, the brand’s third consecutive all-time monthly volume record and lifting its YTD cume to 1.086.869 compared to its 2017 annual sales objective of 1.1 million. Geely remains in 2nd place in the overall brands ranking below just Volkswagen, and this for the second month running (and ever). No less than six Geely nameplates post a new all-time volume record in November: the Boyue (30.884), Emgrand GS (17.487), Emgrand GL (14.211), Vision SUV (13.647), Vision X3 (10.102, first five-digit month) and Vision X1 (3.320).
Nissan Motor is up 22% to 165.656 with a new record for the Kicks (10.959), Honda Motor is up 11% to 140.972 with new records for the Avancier (10.007, first five-digit result) and UR-V (6.586) while Toyota Motor is dow 1.3% to 109.600 mainly due to the Camry generation changeover (-98% to #396). Ford Motor continues to struggle at -8% to 117.593 units despite a 70% surge at Lincoln (6.006), leading to a 6% decline YTD at 1.06m, Hyundai seems to slow down its fall at -25% to 95.012 but Kia suffers again at -38% to 49.132 in spite of a new record by the KX Cross (7.947). Among other foreign manufacturers, Mazda is up 7% to 32.655, Peugeot is down 20% to 29.836 despite a new record by the 4008 (7.273), but Citroen has stabilised (-1%) thanks to the new C5 Aircross at an all-time best (6.759) while Mitsubishi drops 44% despite a new record by the Outlander (9.284). Jaguar (+38%), Volvo (+21%), Land Rover (+15%) and Renault (+9%) also progress but DS (-67%) continues to implode.
There are a lot of very good results among Chinese carmakers also. Not part of them is Changan (-3%) which continues to slip away in spite of a record performance by the CS55 (15.457). The brand now consistently ranks third local below Geely and Baojun. Standing out once again is Great Wall’s new semi-premium fare WEY, with both the VV5 (10.277) and VV7 (10.183) simultaneously crossing the 10.000 monthly unit-milestone for the first time and lifting the brand to a record 20.460 units for the month and a stunning 65.078 since launch. Overall Great Wall Motors sales are up just 1.5% to 131.062 however due to a 17% drop at Haval (97.209) despite the first five-digit score of the M6 (10.059) and despite a 26% surge to 11.777 Great Wall pickup sales. YTD Great Wall Motors sales are up 2.2% to 944.576.
Beijing Auto hangs on and returns to positive thanks to its EV range as well as the Huansu S5 at a best-ever 5.057, as do GAC Trumpchi (+13%) with new records for the GS8 (10.082) and GS3 (5.138), Roewe (+14%) with a new record for the RX3 (4.740), Zotye (+16%) with new records for the T700 (10.510) and T300 (5.203), FAW (+7%) with new records for the Besturn X40 (10.671) and Jilin Xenia R7 (10.207) both posting their very first five-digit month and Leopaard (+16%) thanks to a new record by the CS9 (5.461). Qoros (+27%) thanks to a new record by the 5 SUV at 3.231), Karry (+42%), Hanteng (+46%), Zhi Dou (+62%), MG (+90%), Maxus (+104%), Hawtai (+236% thanks to a new record by the Shengdafei at 12.877) and Kandi (+294%) also post spectacular gains, but not as much as Soueast, up 179-fold (!) thanks to the success of the DX3, breaking a new volume record at 12.830 units. Finally, note that a fantastic score by the Song MAX (10.265, first five-digit score) doesn’t prevent BYD from falling 16%. Other struggling Chinese carmakers include Chery (-27%), JAC (-32%), Jinbei (-37%), Changhe (-40%), Haima (-41%), Cowin (-47%), JMC (-51%) and Landwind (-79%).
One year ago: China November 2016: One million SUVs lift market up 17%
Full November 2017 Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 450 models below.