The Fiat 126p was the first passenger car to be imported into China in 1979.
The direct links to all Historical articles are below.
Chinese historical information all the way up to the start of the eighties is now available on Best Selling Cars Blog. This 39 year-period in China is definitely one of the most interesting ones in the entire history of automobile, sales in the country going from virtually nothing to 28 million today, making China the biggest new vehicle market in the world, and by far.
The VW Santana was the best-selling car in China for one decade from 1986 onwards.
In the early eighties the first passenger cars were imported into China, mainly Fiat 126p from Poland first used as taxis. 1986 marks the local production launch of the VW Santana, the very car that would set the ground work for China’s motorisation, with over 3 million units produced in 25 years. Witness the Santana pass the relay to the VW Jetta in the mid-nineties, the Jetta leading for over a decade with 2 million units produced.
The VW Jetta was #1 in China up to 2008.
Discover the intense fight between the Jetta, Buick Excelle, Hyundai Elantra and FAW Tianjin Xiali in the mid-noughties, leading to the crowning of the BYD F3 in 2009 and 2010, of the Buick Excelle in 2011, the triumph of the Ford Focus in 2012 and the Wuling Hongguang from 2013 onwards and for the following five years before the VW Lavida takes charge in 2018. From October 2010 onwards there is a monthly coverage of the Chinese new car market on BSCB.
China Historical Data:
China 1980-1985: Fiat 126p best-seller, 1 passenger car for every 6 million people
China 1986-1995: VW Santana launches Chinese motorisation
China 1996-2001: VW Jetta challenges Santana domination
China 2002: VW Jetta, Santana and Santana 3000 on podium
China 2003: VW Jetta, Santana and Passat in command
China 2004: VW Jetta and Santana on top, Hyundai Elantra arrives
China 2005: Tianjin Xiali and Hyundai Elantra take the lead
China 2006: VW Jetta reclaims first place, Buick Excelle close second
China 2007: VW Jetta, Buick Excelle and Toyota Camry on podium
China 2008: VW Jetta #1, Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla up
China 2009: BYD F3 crowned, Buick Excelle and Hyundai Elantra Yuedong follow
China 2010: BYD F3 and VW Lavida on top
China 2011: Buick Excelle best-seller after 4 years at #2
China 2012: Ford Focus triumphs
China 2013: Wuling Hongguang and VW Lavida on top
China 2014: Growth cools to 7% to record 23.5 million sales
China 2015: Market up 4.7% to record 24.61 million despite sluggish summer
China 2015: Discover the Top 137 All-brands (BSCB Exclusive)
China LCV 2015: Sales transfer to mini pickups boosts Wuling Mini Truck to #1
China imports 2015: Discover the first-ever models ranking (BSCB Exclusive)
China 2016: Tax cut boosts market up 14% to record 28 million sales
China LCV 2016: Wuling Mini Truck leads, pickups up 11%
China 2017: Geely becomes #1 Chinese brand in market up 3.2%
China LCV 2017: Wuling dominates, pickups gain 18%
China imports 2017: Exclusive data by model and brand
China wholesales 2018: VW Lavida snaps first ever win in first market decline in 28 years
China retail 2018: Toyota stands out, VW Lavida, Nissan Sylphy and Toyota Corolla best-sellers
China imports 2018: Lexus (+26.3%) has ES at #1, NX at #3 and RX at #5 in market up 3.2%
China new energy 2018: BYD and BAIC EC-Series leaders, market eclipses 1 million annual sales for the first time
China wholesales 2019: Market down -8.2% to lowest since 2015, New Energy sales down -1.2%, first “winter” for weak Chinese brands
China retail 2019: Honda (+16.6%), BMW (+21.6%) stand out in market holding better than wholesales (-4%)
China imports 2019: Lexus takes control with ES and RX, Tesla Model 3 lands in Top 10
China LCV 2019: Wuling Mini Truck breaks record in market down just -2%
China wholesales 2020: SUVs outsell cars for the first time, Nissan Sylphy snaps first win, market down just -1.9%
China retail 2020: Changan (+26.8%), Toyota (+7.6%) headline market down -7.5%
China imports 2020: Lexus places ES, RX and NX in Top 4 again in market down -12.3%
China LCV 2020: Wuling Mini Truck breaks record again in market up 11.2%