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China-made light vehicle sales have ended two consecutive months of year-on-year decline in June at +2.3% to 1.83 million deliveries according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. This improvement is the sole work of SUVs up 14% to 741.400 units. All other segments are stable or decline: sedans are down 4% to 883.000, MPVs up 0.4% to 163.700 and microvans down 22% to 43.700. Yet despite some success stories as we’ll see further down, stock of Chinese-branded vehicles on dealerships is up to a 71-day supply vs 57 in May. Halfway through the year, the Chinese market (imports excluded) remains in positive, but just: up a meagre 1.6% to a record 11.3 million units. The positive trend is maintained thanks to price cuts, with average transaction prices dropping 4% over the first half of 2017. Apart from SUVs, one segment is in great shape: electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, up 33% in June to 59.000 deliveries and 14% year-to-date to 195.000.
According to data released by manufacturers themselves – retail sales including imports, so the data differs from our data tables, General Motors is up 4.3% year-on-year to 285.191 units, with Buick up 13% to 96.913, Chevrolet up 7.2%, Baojun up 47% and Cadillac up for the 16th consecutive month at +35% to 12.886 whereas Wuling skids down 26% to 73.460. The Volkswagen Group does better with a 5.2% rise to 315.300 units, with the Volkswagen brand up 5.4% to 232.400 (up 13% to 247.882 wholesales) and Audi back into positive territory as we’ll see further down. Ford Motor soar 15% to around 100.000 units. Japanese carmakers continue to beat the market, partly benefitting from their Korean counterparts’ crisis: Nissan Motor is up 8.9% to 118.769, Honda Motor up 18% to 113.769 and Toyota Motor up 10% to 106.900. Following China’s diplomatic feud with South Korea about U.S. anti-missile defense, Hyundai (-64%) and Kia (-60%) continue to freefall.
After a start of the year handicapped by a conflict with their dealers about a new distribution channel – now postponed – Audi reclaims the premium leadership, but just, as its recovery is sluggish: up 1.7% to 51.900 deliveries this month. In comparison, BMW/Mini is up 12% to 50.597 thanks to the X1 and newly-launched 1-Series sedan and Mercedes-Benz is up 28% to 50.090, citing record sales of the C-Class and strong Smart deliveries. Volvo for its part beats all the aforementioned manufacturers with a 31% surge to 10.113 units.
As always, it’s within Chinese brands that we find the most spectacular year-on-year gains, but some are starting to run out of puff. For the third month in a row, Geely is the most popular Chinese brand at home thanks to a spectacular 89% gain to just under 90.000 units. The brand benefits from very strong sales of recently-launched SUVs – the Boyue, once again beating its volume record this month, as well as the Emgrand GS and Vision SUV, with the Emgrand GL sedan also hitting the mark. ChangAn drops 1% to just under 82.000 units and Great Wall Motors worryingly drops 1.7% to 64.471 units, with its SUV brand Haval down 9% and this despite Great Wall-branded pickup deliveries up 17% to 8.055 and the arrival of its new premium brand WEY with 3.166 sales.
Wholesales of Baojun are up 61% to above 60.000 units, GAC Trumpchi shoots up 52% to 43.360 with the large GS8 SUV continuing to post strong figures, Chery is up 14%, Roewe up 109% thanks to the RX5 SUV and the i6 sedan, Zotye up 31% with the new T700 its best-seller and a rare nameplate in its range that is not a clone, Soueast up 76% thanks to the DX3 SUV, Leopaard up 29% thanks to the arrival of the CS9 SUV, MG up 38% thanks to the ZS SUV, Karry up 67%, SWM up to #44 and Bisu up to #49. In contrast, Dongfeng is down 10%, Beijing Auto (BAIC, BAW) down 37%, BYD down 19%, JAC down 38%, Lifan down 12%, Venucia down 11%, Haima down 47% and Brilliance down 45%. It’s not all rosy among Chinese carmakers indeed. Among other manufacturers, notice Jeep up 66% and Renault up 160% but Peugeot down 32% and Citroen down 69%.
In the models ranking, the Buick Excelle takes the lead for the first time for this generation thanks to sales up 15%. It is the first time since April 2012 that the Excelle nameplate dominates the Chinese sales charts. But this win wasn’t a blatant one as the photo-finish for the #1 position has never been so close in China: only 2.656 sales separate the #1 from the #5 ranked. At #2 despite sales down 19%, the VW Lavida makes it two sedans on top, ahead of the Haval H6 (-6%) and the Wuling Hongguang (-18%) confirming its current weakness. The Nissan Sylphy (-1%) and Toyota Corolla (+19%) follow. Below, three blockbuster SUVs shine again: the GAC Trumpchi GS4 hasn’t yet reached its full potential with deliveries up 20%, the Baojun 510 breaks another symbolic barrier – 30.000 monthly sales, annihilating the brand’s other SUV, the 560 down 69% to #101, and the VW Tiguan shoots up 79% on the previous model in June 2016.
Volkswagen sees a shaking of its best-sellers: the Tiguan comes at #2 below the Lavida, with the long-running Jetta (-28%), Sagitar (-15%) and Santana (-38%) in great difficulty. In contrast, the Lamando breaks a new volume record above 19.000 units (+109%), the Magotan is up 67%, the Polo up 30%, the Bora up 45% and the Passat up 38%. Also in great shape near the top of the ranking: the Honda XR-V up 44% and the Changan CS75 up 79%. Among recent launches, the Honda Avancier (#80), VW Teramont (#87), Skoda Kodiaq (+68 to #106), Honda UR-V (+34 to #120), Zotye T700 (+242 to #136), Changan CS55 (+247 to #148), Peugeot 5008 (#155) and Bisu T5 (#164) all beat their monthly volume record.
Previous month: China May 2017: Second consecutive month of decline at -2.6%
Full June 2017 Top 76 All-brands and Top 437 All-models below.