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New light vehicle sales in China are up 3.3% year-on-year in September to 2.342.600 units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, an exceptional market performance keeping in mind September 2016 volumes were up 29% on the year prior on forwarded sales ahead of expiring incentives. Once again, sales are fuelled by an SUV rush, albeit much more contained than the previous months, with year-on-year gains for the segment falling into the single-digits at +9% to 972.396. Passenger cars are up 3.7% to 1.116.346 units but MPVs plunge 25% to 161.184 and microvans are down 8.1% to 44.600. Year-to-date, Chinese light vehicle sales are up 2.4% to a record 17.155.000 units. Adding trucks and buses at 319.300 in September (+19.1%) and 3.023.300 year-to-date (+17.1%) brings the total Chinese vehicle market to 2.613.800 for September (+5%), and a whopping 20.224.500 year-to-date (+4%), the fastest China sales have hit the 20 million mark. Chinese-branded light vehicle sales are down 0.9% to 966.000 units, accounting for 42.1% of the total market. Chinese manufacturers’ grip on regular car sales is loosening up further with only two nameplates in the Top 29 best-sellers vs. 11 in the 16 best-selling SUVs.
A record 9.143 BAIC EC-Series EVs found a new home this month.
The only segment really booming in China this month is electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, up 79% to 78.000 units, with EV sales up 83% to 64.000 and plug-in hybrids up 62% to 14.000. Year-to-date, the segment is up 40% to 442.000, headed towards an annual figure of upwards of 600.000 units. Only China-made EVs and plug-in hybrids qualify for government subsidies that are scheduled to end by 2020. Illustrating the trend, the new BAIC EC-Series is up to #75 in the models ranking with a record 9.143 sales, up 36% on its previous volume record established just last month. In second place of the segment is the Zhi Dou D2 at 5.084 sales (up 6-fold on a year ago), ahead of the BYD Qin at 3.669 (-21%), JAC iEV at 3.021 (+81%), Chery eQ at 2.652 (+430%) and Changan Benben EV at 2.586. Launched last month, the Baojun E100 is up 132% to 1.562 sales and comes in at #12 in the segment. Changan announced this week it would stop selling combustion-engine cars in 2025, while BAIC Group Chairman Xu Heyi said China’s electric vehicle output could reach 1 million units as early as next year and 3 million by 2020. The Chinese government’s goal is to produce 2 million EVs a year by 2020 and 7 million by 2025, accounting for 20% of total light-vehicle production by then.
Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which vary from the data tables we provide further down in the article, and the next few paragraphs are dedicated to these announcements – model sales are local wholesales. The Volkswagen Group outpaces the market with a 6.3% year-on-year gain to 406.500 units. The Volkswagen brand is up 7.5% to 310.500 units. VW places five nameplates in the Top 9 most popular cars, with the Lavida shooting up 27% to 59.697 units, its third highest monthly volume below 61.568 in January 2014 and 60.233 in January 2017. This earns the Lavida the YTD top spot, overtaking the Wuling Hongguang which had been the best-selling vehicle in China for the past four years. The Sagitar (+15%) breaks its volume record at 39.358, the Santana is up an equally impressive 18%, the Tiguan is up 49% to also hit a new record at 33.462 sales and the Teramont posts a new personal best as well at 8.771. Audi is up 7.2% to 58.445 with the Q5 hitting a new record at 13.539 (+17%), Skoda is down 4.5% to 30.600 but the Kodiaq breaks its record at 6.160. Porsche sales are up 10% over the first nine months to 54.090. Year-to-date, the VW Group is up 1.4% to 2.89m keeping the lead over GM, while the VW brand is up 3.2% to 2.2m units.
General Motors sees its sales up 6.6% to 366.305 units in September. Buick is up 5.7% to 114.500 as the GL8 MPV hits a new record at 13.899 sales (+115%), while Baojun continues to be one of a handful of tremendous success stories in China, seeing its retail sales surge 51% to 94.718 (wholesales are up 36% to 95.128). Two star nameplates break volume records: the 510 passes the 40.000 monthly unit-barrier for the first time at 41.031, stepping up to third place overall and #2 SUV, while the 310 overcomes the 20.000 monthly unit hurdle at 21.705, remaining the 2nd most popular Chinese car in the country thanks to the addition of a wagon variant. Wuling plunges 24% to 82.082 with the Hongguang down an abysmal 29%, Chevrolet is up 11% to 57.757 with the Cavalier above 20.000 sales for the first time at 20.925 and Cadillac is up 38% to 17.248, with the XT5 breaking its volume record at 6.042 (+15%). Year-to-date, GM sales is China are up 1% to 2.75m units.
Japanese carmakers continue to go from strength to strength: Honda Motor is up 16% to 143.000, Nissan Motor up 15% to 142.300 and Toyota Motor up 14% to 118.900. Year-to-date, Honda is up 18% to 1.03m, Nissan up 9.8% to 1.02m and Toyota up 7.9% to 960.400. Japanese record breakers include the Toyota Levin (17.133 sales), Honda Avancier (9.669), Nissan Kicks (8.805) and Toyota Prado (6.078) while the Toyota Corolla posts its 2nd best-ever volume at 32.014 below the 32.381 of last June. Ford Motor sales are down slightly at 112.902 despite Lincoln up 79% to 5.700 units. Year-to-date, Ford is down 5% to 832.761.
In the luxury race, Audi has reclaimed the lead (see above) with BMW Group in 2nd place at 52.681 (+7.1%) and Mercedes in third at 51.127 (+11%). Year-to-date, Mercedes continues to lead at 442.899 (+30%) but Audi is now 2nd at 440.233 (-4.9%) and BMW third at 436.657 (+15%). Among foreign manufacturers, notice also (wholesales figures) Jeep up 40% with the Compass lodging its first five-figure sales month, Mitsubishi up 167% with record Outlander sales at 9.002, Volvo up 47% and Renault up 114%. Reversely, Hyundai (-18%) and Kia (-29%) continue to struggle despite a record month by the Elantra Lingdong and the arrival of the Kia KX Cross and Pegas (see our upcoming All-new models special). Similarly, French Peugeot (-9%) and Citroen (-30%) are still in negative.
Now onto Chinese manufacturers. Geely looks set to achieve its annual target of 1.1 million sales this year with another very strong performance in September: up 42% to 108.980. Year-to-date deliveries are now up a whopping 78% to 820.356 units. 3 of Geely’s 4 best-selling nameplates break all-time volume records this month: the Boyue at 26.317 (+87%), the Emgrand GS at 14.007 (+64%) and the Emgrand GL at 12.091 (+321%). Along with the Vision SUV, also launched in 2016, these four nameplate represent 57% of Geely’s total sales in September. In addition, both the Vision X3 (3.032) and Vision X1 (3.004) also post records, albeit at much lower levels. With the Emgrand EC7 (#18) and Emgrand GL (#30), Geely has two of only three Chinese cars in the Top 30, the other one being the Baojun 310 (#19).
Great Wall Motors shows a changing profile this month, with sales up 4.5% to 102.037, its third consecutive month of year-on-year gains. Pickup sales are up 39% to 11.317 but Haval sales are down a worrying 11.3% to 77.755 with the H6 down 15%, the H2 down 18%, the H7 down 27% and the H1 down 74% but the M6 up 112% on its inaugural month. However the group’s new brand, WEY, is showing great strength: up 67% on August to 12.013 with the VV7 beating its volume record and the VV5 landing, as we’ll detail further in our special All-new models coverage. Year-to-date, Great Wall Motors is up 2.2% to 705.506 deliveries.
Changan struggles at -16% this month to #7 brand overall with one bright spot being the CS55 breaking a volume record again at 14.938. GAC Trumpchi (+25%) sees a solid 2nd month of sales by the GS3, Roewe (+40%) has the RX5 break its volume record at 25.066 (+82%), Zotye (+8%) is pulled up by the T700 (new record) and the arrival of the T300, Soueast (+51%) by the DX3’s new volume high, MG (+47%) by the ZS, Hawtai (+87%) by the Shengdafei, Leopaard (+19%) by the CS9 hitting a new record, Lifan (+24%) by the Xuanlang at its best while further down, Karry (+47%), Zhi Dou (+64%), Kandi (+2511%), Maxus (+94%), Foton (+159%), Huasong (+496%) and FQT Motor (+185%) all impress. In contrast, Dongfeng (-12%), Venucia (-17%), Yema (-17%), FAW (-19%), Beijing Auto (-28%), Changhe (-28%), BYD (-29%), Chery (-30%), Borgward (-43%), Haima (-50%), JAC (-50%), Qoros (-57%), Cowin (-60%) and Landwind (-68%) all dangerously lose grip.
Full September 2017 Top 75 China-made brands and Top 444 models below.