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Sales of new passenger cars in China confirm their cooling off, up ‘just’ 6.6% year-on-year in October to 1.708.900 units, still a higher growth rate than the #2 market in the world, the USA. Although most analysts announce the end of double-digit growth in China “forever” and use words such as the Chinese market is “struggling”, I remain positive about the largest new vehicle market in the world. This modest (for China) YOY increase reflects a particularly high October 2013 which was up 24% on the year before, as the abating of tensions with Japan meant Japanese carmakers were absorbing a backlog of missed sales.
The different segments evolve in radically different ways: while microvans dropped a very harsh 33% to 84.800 units and sedan sales were down for the first time this year at -1% to 1.052.500 SUVs surged 37% to 388.729 (after gaining 73% in October 2013) and MPVs increased by 33% to 178,321 units after tripling one year ago… All in all, this brings the Chinese passenger car year-to-date total to a record 15.888.300 deliveries, still up a robust 10% on 2013. That’s for passenger cars, but China’s commercial truck and bus market remained weak this month: down 15% to 278,300 units. As a result, combined sales of passenger vehicles and commercial trucks were up only 3% in October to 1.987.200. The total vehicle sales for its part is up 7% to 18.988.100 units. At this rate the Chinese market will absorb a record 23.3 million new vehicles over the Full Year 2014, up from 22 million in 2013.
Interestingly, Chinese brands are the ones benefiting the most from the SUV and MPV explosion, with 7 representants in the Top 30 vs. just 3 one year ago including 4 MPVs. The Wuling Hongguang is master in command once again with just over 60,000 sales, a 10% YOY increase, followed by the VW Lavida (+7%) kept afloat by its hatchback variant which represents 25% of its sales while the Ford Focus tumbles down 17% in third position. The Nissan Sylphy is up 25% to deliver its best monthly volume so far in 2014 at 30,680 and the Haval H6 continues its unstoppable ascension, smashing its volume record for the 12th time in the past 16 months by 2.600 units to 30.373 sales, the first time any SUV sells over 30,000 units in the history of automobile in China!
The most impressive development of the month occurs in 6th position: for its third month in market, the low-cost MPV Baojun 730 improves another 8 spots on September to make its grand entrance inside China’s Top 10 thanks to a huge 25,506 sales. The 730 went from #26 in August to #14 and now #6, by far the fastest climb to the top from any new nameplate in China since BSCB started following this country monthly a little less than a decade ago. The most fascinating part of this meteoric sales debut is that it has not affected the Wuling Hongguang for the least part, the latter being stable around 60,000 monthly sales all along. Very smart move from SAIC-GM-Wuling who manufactures both models.
In a repeat from last month, these two are not the only MPVs to beat records: both the Dongfeng Joyear (up 86% to #27 and 13,050 sales) and the Dongfeng Fengguang (up 93% to 11,052 units and #43) smash their ranking and volume records for the 2nd month in a row. Add to them the Chana Honor up 27% to #28 and 12,909 sales and the Beijing Weiwang M20 up a huge 192% YOY to #72 and a very impressive picture in painted indeed for affordable Chinese MPVs, the new format du jour in China.
Knocking on the Top 10’s door is the Toyota Corolla, boosted by the new generation and accelerating its rise to +73% YOY vs. +43% in September, achieving 21,480 sales for a #11 ranking, the Corolla’s best ranking since May 2012 and, most significantly, its strongest ever monthly volume, beating the 20,044 units from August 2011 when it ranked #3 overall. At #15, the Emgrand EC7 is now firmly back in the #1 Chinese sedan spot at #15, well above the ChangAn Eado up a huge 106% to #23.
Two recently launched Chinese SUVs brilliantly break the 10,000 monthly deliveries milestone for the first time this month at home: the Haval H2 is p 41% on September for its 4th month of sales to 11,678 units at #37 and the ChangAn CS75 is up 12% to 10,347 units, also breaking into the Top 50 for the first time at #50 and making it two ChangAn SUVs among China’s 50 best-sellers along with the CS35 at #47 (+35%). Notice also the Chery Tiggo 3 up 153% YOY to #33. Outside the Top 50, 4 additional Chinese SUVs reach all-time high volumes this month: the JAC Refine S3 is up 62% on September to #56 and 9,900 sales, the Beijing Auto Huansu S3 is up 25% to #61 and 9,337 units, the FAW Besturn X80 up 58% YOY to #66 and 8,199 and the Zotye T600 up to #68 and 8,165 sales.
As far as recent (re)launches are concerned, let’s salute the Toyota Levin passing the 10,000 monthly unit-milestone for its 3rd month in market at #44 and 11,016 deliveries, the Honda Fit up 4-fold on the old model a year ago to #45 and 10,942 sales, the Luxgen 6 SUV defying the brand’s sales perimeter and up a further 10 spots to a record #82 and 6,502 units, the ChangAn Benben back up 64 spots on last month to #88 thanks to a very sexy new generation and dragging its competitor the BYD F0 along (+96 to #93), the Honda Odyssey up 158% YOY to #96 here too thanks to a new generation, the Mazda6 Atenza up 32 ranks to a best-ever #103 and the GAC Trumpchi GA3S up one to a record-breaking 5,001 deliveries.
The two high potential China-only Korean nameplates launched last month are ramping up nicely, both already ranking inside the Top 100: the Hyundai ix25 is up 53% and 27 spots on its introductory month to #94 and 6,080 sales (above the Chevy Trax and Peugeot 2008) and the Kia K4 is up 28% and 14 ranks to #100 and 5,522 units. Another model launched last month achieves something many thought impossible: reviving a dying Chinese sedan sub-brand: the DongFeng Fengshan A30 is up 8-fold on its initial month of sales, going from #246 and 487 units to #132 and 3,937 deliveries. This is to be compared with 1,232 units for the Fengshan A60, 837 for the S30 and 447 for the H30. Fengshan being Dongfeng’s only sedan sub-brand, the manufacturer may have nailed the survival of its sedan business just then.
Another interesting development by a Chinese manufacturer this month is Geely finally reaping the benefits of streamlining its stable of brands earlier in the year, when it killed Shanghai Englon and Gleagle to concentrate on Geely and Emgrand. All Geely models are now gaining ground on last month: the Geely King Kong is up 14 spots and 87% year-on-year to #65 and 8,367 sales, the Geely GX7 up 7 ranks to #81, Geely Vision up 37 spots and 30% YOY to #147, Geely SC7 up 49 to #151, Geely Panda up 34 to #160, Geely Freedom Ship up 3 to #178 and the TX4 taxi up 7 to #255, going from one lonely unit sold in October 2013 to 378 this month…
Finally, notice the Haima Family up 186% on October 2013 to #90, the FAW Besturn B70 up 10-fold YOY to #139 and 3,529 sales thanks to the new generation, the BYD G5 up 347% on its introductory score last month to #158 with 2,725 deliveries, the Lifan 630 taking off at last, up 4-fold YOY to #165, the Hawtai Lusheng E70 unlocking unsuspected potential at an incredible +1522% YOY to #183 and the Qoros 3 still very lukewarm at 836 sales and #224, its best monthly volume and ranking so far after an excruciating 9 months in market.
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Full October 2014 Top 325 All-models and Top 10 manufacturers Ranking Tables below.