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Light vehicle sales in China are up for the second month in a row at +4.3% year-on-year in July to 1.678.900 units, an impressive feat on its own as July 2016 sales were boosted up 26% by the prospect of a tax increase on small engine vehicles, which took effect on January 1. Sales of these vehicles, with engine capacity of 1.6L and lower, are down just 1% year-on-year in July – an exploit – at 1.113.000 units, accounting for 66.3% of the passenger car market vs. 69.8% a year ago. These vehicles add up to 8.809.000 units year-to-date or 68.1% of the market, down 2.5% on the previous year. Looking at sales by segment, SUVs are once again the sole engine of growth as they are the only segment posting a year-on-year gain at +16.3% to 694.118 units while sedans are down 0.3% to 824.900, MPVs down 9.9% to 132.361 and minibuses down 39% to 27.500.
Overall so far in 2017, the Chinese light vehicle market is up 2% to a record 12.931.000 units. Adding to this, commercial vehicle sales are up 18.4% in July to 293.000 units, leading to a year-to-date tally up 17.5% to 2.394.000 deliveries. In total, July sales of all vehicles – passenger cars and commercial vehicles – are up 6.2% year-on-year to 1.971.000 units and lead to a 2017 total of 15.325.000 units, up 4.1% on the same period in 2016.
As far as the – much discussed – share of Chinese manufacturers in different segments, in July Chinese-branded passenger cars are up 7.2% to 679.000 units or 40.5% of the total PC market, up from 39.4% a year ago. Chinese car sales are up 4.1% to 148.000 or 18% of this segment, up from 17.2% a year ago. The biggest improvement is to be seen in the booming SUV segment where Chinese brands are up 25.2% to 394.000 sales or 57.1% share, up from 53.8% a year ago. The Chinese share of MPVs is down from 85.6% to 80.2% as sales slump 16.5% to 110.000. Over the first seven months of 2017, Chinese branded passenger cars add up to 5.619.000 sales, up 4.7% year-on-year for a 43.5% market share, up from 42.4% a year ago. SUV share is up from 55.7% to 59.3% thanks to sales up 24.5% to 3.093.000 units, car share is up from 18.7% to 19.5% as sales grow 1.2% to 1.212.000 units but MPV share is down from 89.9% to 84.5% as sales plunge 20.3% to 969.000 units.
Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which vary from the data tables we provide below, and this paragraph is dedicated to these announcements. The Volkswagen Group sees its deliveries gain 8.1% year-on-year in July to 309.100 units, with the VW brand up 8.7% to 228.900 and Audi up 10% to 51.235, reclaiming the premium crown off Mercedes (up 32% to 48.588 including Smart) and BMW (up 8% to 43.311 including Mini). Year-to-date, the VW Group is down slightly at -0.6% to 2.148.000 sales, and Mercedes still holds the premium top spot at 341.267 sales (+34%) ahead of BMW at 336.591 (+17%) and Audi at 306.020 (-9.1%). Honda Motor maintain its advantage over Toyota Motor with 7 month-sales reaching 757.970 (+18%) vs. 732.900 (+6.2%) for Toyota. Ford Motor for its part drops 7% to 84.474 units. Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen continues to implode into oblivion with sales down another 38% in July to 21.104 and year-to-date deliveries down 47% to 168.933. To add insult to injury, the premium DS brand is down 97% to just 22 sales due to a -162 unit-“correction” applied to the DS 6 SUV…
As always the China-made wholesale brands data shows a slightly different picture, with Volkswagen up 7% followed by Honda (+11%) and Toyota (+24%). Geely surges 88% to 91.208 sales and becomes the best-selling Chinese brand year-to-date at 616.925 (+87%) vs. 593.240 (-5%) for Changan, down to #8 this month. Buick edges up 1%, Nissan is up a solid 15% and Baojun shoots up 77% to 62.418. Haval drops 10% in 9th place – Great Wall Motors edges up 0.1% to 69.063 (thanks to WEY – see further down) and just 2% year-to-date at 529.806. Hyundai (-29%) is finally on the mend: up 6 spots on June to #10, but Kia is still struggling at -52% to #26. Chevrolet (+22%), GAC Trumpchi (+30%), Mercedes (+49%), Roewe (+98%), Mazda (+17%) and Cadillac (+50%) all post strong results inside the Top 30. Among smaller brands, notice FAW up 37%, Soueast up 49%, Leopaard up 52%, MG up 53%, Volvo up 44%, Mitsubishi up 434%, Karry up 80%, Renault up 194% and JMC up 107%.
Although a majority of Chinese brands are on the up this month and so far this year, it’s not the case for all, with some large manufacturers starting to lose foot: Dongfeng is down 12%, BYD down 20%, Borgward down 21%, Wuling down 21%, JAC down 27%, Beijing Auto down 29%, Haima down 34%, Brilliance down 37% and Jinbei down 45%. Worse: newly launched Cowin is down 80% and clone-addict Landwind down 70%. Among foreign carmakers in difficulty, let’s note Jeep (-5%), Peugeot (-26%), Suzuki (-34%), Citroen (-56%) and Fiat (-88%) now discontinued. No less than seven new brands have launched on the China-made market in the past 12 months (five Chinese) and in July the most successful are WEY (6.075) only in its 2nd month of sales, SWM (5.919), Bisu (4.766) and Hanteng (3.512).
Over in the models ranking, the Haval H6 takes the lead for the third time ever after April and November 2016, and this despite a 5% drop and facelifts all across the six model-lineup that compose the H6 nameplate (add H6 Coupe and Classic as well as blue and red labels for each model). Leader last month, the Buick Excelle is knocked down to #2 but gains 10% year-on-year, distancing the Wuling Hongguang posting an alarming 19% slump. The star of the past few months improves again: the Baojun 510 beats its volume record for the 5th straight month, lifting it to 33.036 and now only 4.300 sales from the Chinese market pole position.
The 510 symbolises the non-stop energy and money Chinese carmakers are investing in the booming SUV market: in July, 7 out of the Top 10 best-selling SUVs in the country are Chinese, with the VW Tiguan (#5), Nissan X-Trail (#7) and Honda XR-V (#9) the only foreigners. The Geely Boyue (+116%) beats its volume record at 21.872, the Roewe RX5 is up 11-fold on its debut a year ago, the Changan CS75 is up 120% and the Geely Emgrand GS also breaks its monthly sales record at 12.863 (+91%), appearing in the Top 10 SUVs for the first time. Sedans are not dead though: below the Buick Excelle, the Toyota Corolla (+16%), VW Sagitar (+38%), VW Magotan (+48%), Geely Emgrand EC7 (+16%), VW Polo (+35%) and Honda Civic (+73%) shine.
The list of nameplates hitting an all-time high volume this month is long as is usually the case in fast-moving China, and in July it includes the VW Teramont (8.148) up 19 spots on June to #68, the Honda Avancier (8.044), WEY VV7 (6.075) up 92% on its June debut, Skoda Kodiaq (5.905), Honda UR-V (5.775), Chana Oushang A800 (5.330) up 10-fold on its June debut, the Zotye T700 (4.355), Leopaard CS9 (4.223) up 27% on its June debut and now the brand’s best-seller, the Peugeot 5008 (3.437) a welcome breath of fresh air for the embattled French manufacturer and the Lifan Xuanlang (3.345) a Ford Galaxy clone that is now the brand’s best-seller at home.
Previous month: China June 2017: Buick Excelle in the lead, market back up
Full July 2017 Top 76 All-brands and Top 426 All-models below.