* See the Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands by clicking on the title *
The Chinese light vehicle market is up a very satisfying 6.5% year-on-year in April to 1.78 million units, lifting the year-to-date total up 6.7% to 7.45 million registrations. While the China growth softening has been a headline subject in the past year, these results are to be compared with a 3% increase to 5.6 million units in the U.S., a market supposedly in record shape. It’s all a question of perspective… No surprises as to where the engine of Chinese growth lies this month: once again the SUV segment is the sole responsible for the market dynamism with sales up a staggering 32% to 616.524 units. MPV have significantly slowed their growth to just 5% at 177.238 deliveries while sedans are down 3% to 909.173 and microvans continue to freefall at -22% to 85.000 sales. A very symbolic illustration of the drastic consumer towards SUVs is this month’s overall lead of the Haval H6 thanks to sales up a whopping 43% to 43.946. It is the first time in the history of automobile in China that an SUV is the overall best-selling vehicle in the country.
After being outsold by General Motors for the first time in a decade in 2015, the Volkswagen Group has now reclaimed the title of China’s largest manufacturer despite weaker year-on-year gains at 295.300 deliveries in April (+0.1%) vs. just 277.979 (+7.5%) for GM. In April, the Volkswagen brand is down 2% to 216.700, Audi is up 9% to 49.576 and Skoda up 4% to 23.800. Note CAAM-sourced data has VW up 10% to 227.710 units – potentially due to a different methodology (retail sales vs. wholesale). In the GM aisle, SUVs helped boost the carmaker’s sales with combined sales of crossovers and SUVs under the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Baojun brands up 107%. Buick is up another 56% to 98.992, Baojun up 56% to 37.915, Cadillac up 13% to 7.007 but Wuling is down 14% to 98.580 and Chevrolet down 29% to 35.431. Its solid April score enables the Volkswagen Group to get past GM year-to-date with 1.25 million deliveries (+4.8%) vs. 1.24 million for the U.S. carmaker (+1.7%).
The resurgence of Volkswagen is built on outstanding sedan sales, going against the overall market trend: the VW Lavida is up 53% to 41.408 units, the Jetta up 16% to 29.494, the Sagitar up 26% to 29.279 and the Magotan up 53% to 12.454. Reversely at GM, the Buick Envision is on fire again (+68%) but if the Baojun 560 was teasing the Haval H6 for the SUV title last month with a record 42.077 units, in April it is down to 24.963 while the Baojun 730 MPV drops a harsh 42% year-on-year to 15.072. Meanwhile the perennial market leader, the Wuling Hongguang, is now under attack with sales down 25% to 40.002 in third place for April and down 15% to 207.158 year-to-date vs. 200.973 (+18%) for the VW Lavida. Wuling and Baojun were offering very aggressive price cuts across their entire micro and minivan lineup in April while I was in the country, and Wuling just unveiled a facelifted version of the one year-old Hongguang S1, taking design cues from the SUV segment (pictured above).
Among other brands, Honda is by far the most impressive with sales up 23% to 96.393 (CAAM figures) leading to a 35% year-to-date increase at 326.583. Toyota is up 9% to 101.100, with its year-to-date total up 22% to 392.100, Hyundai is up 7% to 96.222 but Nissan is up just 0.7% to 96.200 (including Infiniti and Venucia), in line with a meagre 0.8% year-to-date increase at 394.800 units. Among Chinese brands, Changan is up 19% to 88.526, while Great Wall is up just 2% to 79.607 as the company is now struggling to sell anything other than the top-selling Haval H6 SUV and the H7 just hit the market (more on this shortly). Great Wall-branded cars are down 76% while Haval is up 19%. BAIC is up 53% to 50.358, riding on the success of Huansu and Senova-branded crossovers and MPV, and Geely is up 11% to 44.668 thanks to the success of its low-priced sedans and the gearing-up of the Boyue SUV.
In the luxury aisle, below Audi up 9% to 49.576, Mercedes overtakes archenemy BMW thanks to sales up 32% to 35.625 while BMW posts an uncharacteristic 7.4% drop to 35.100 units due to the X1 generation changeover. Year-to-date, Audi is up 5.9% to 189.611, BMW up 6% to 162.221 and Mercedes up 35% to 142.266. Jaguar Land Rover is finally reporting China-made sales albeit not the model split between the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The group’s sales are up 10% year-on-year in April to 9.135, 54% of which are produced locally vs. a 41% ratio in February. So far this year, JLR sales are up 17% to 37.099. Later this year, the very first Jaguar to be made in China, the XFL, will be launched.
In other model news, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 breaks back into the Top 10 to hit an all-time best 8th place overall thanks to 25.073 sales, adding up to just under 230.000 in 12 months: an incredible success putting the GAC Trumpchi brand on the map. The Honda XR-V is up 84% to hit a record 16.072 units, becoming the single best-selling Honda nameplate in China for the first time. Adding sales of its twin Vezel (+57%) brings the April total for Honda’s small crossovers to 30.265, equivalent to an extremely impressive 4th place overall this month. The Honda CR-V (+47%) even benefits from this smashing success. Notice also the Zotye T600 is up 27% and another list of models breaking their volume record this month: the Chana Oushang (11.784), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (10.593), Jeep Cherokee (9.201), Changan CS15 (5.680), Zotye SR7 (5.068) and Chana CX70 (4.285).
Among the numerous China-made nameplates launched last month, the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong improves 32% and 33 spots on an already stunning start to 14.665 units (#25), the Chery Arrizo 5 logically surges 49% to 8.109 (#71), the Kia KX5 is up 30% to 7.813, the Geely Boyue soars 293% to 4.002 deliveries, still a far cry from my 20.000 monthly sales bar for success for this nameplate but already the brand’s best-selling SUV. The BYD Yuan is turning out to be yet another SUV success for the brand, up 254% to 3.109, the Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 is up 996% to 2.061 units and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is up 54% to 1.709. Reversely the Renault Kadjar is down 40% to 1.641, the Qoros 5 SUV is down 4% to 1.178, the Changhe Q25 up just 5% to 829.
Full April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands below.