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China January 2018: VW, Geely, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes & BMW all break records, market showing surprising strength at +12%

The Bora hits a new record, helping VW to its largest ever wholesale volume.

* See the Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 425 models by clicking on the title *

New light vehicle sales in China start the year a lot better than expected given the purchase tax on vehicles with 1.6L engines and below was raised back from 7.5% to 10% on January 1: the market is up 11% to 2.456.200 units. Once again the main engine of growth in China is the SUV segment up 22.9% to 1.081.300, still close to the 1.173.000 record set last month while sedans/hatches are up 7.3% to 1.158.800. In contrast, MPVs are down 13.4% to 178.600 and microvans freefall 30% to 35.700. Truck sales shoot up 18% to 353.100, meaning the total vehicle market in China adds up to 2.809.300 units for January, up 12% year-on-year. Eco-Friendly car sales are up a fantastic 4.3-fold on January 2017 to 38.470, including 26.753 EVs and 11.717 plug-in hybrids. Chinese brands continue to fare very well but trail the overall passenger car market this month at +9.4% to 1.068.700 units or 43.5% share vs. 44.1% a year ago.

Local carmaker Geely posts a 5th consecutive all-time volume record.

Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which differ from the data tables we provide further down in the article (locally-produced wholesales). This paragraph is dedicated to these announcements. The Volkswagen Group is up 16% to 398.600 retail, with the Volkswagen brand up 9.7% to 296.900 retail (almost 56% of VW’s global sales) and Audi up 73% to 60.688. That’s less than Mercedes up 16% to an all-time retail record of 68.425. BMW+Mini is up 6.5% to 54.675. General Motors gains 15% year-on-year to 367.712 units, with Chevrolet up 40% to 54.350, Baojun up 36% to 92.356, Cadillac up 12% to 20.222 (its 23rd consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains), Buick up 5.7% to 113.007 as Wuling totals 87.777 including microvans. Ford Motor plunges 18% to 75.990 sales whereas at 60.688 units, Audi surges 73% on a January 2017 figure hampered by a stop order by dealers due to plans to open a second distribution network. Great Wall Motor reports 110.040 sales up 20.6% year-on-year including 98.748 SUVs (+22.1%).

Toyota has its best month ever in China in January, with the Corolla at its highest too. 

Back to wholesales data of locally produced models, and at this game Volkswagen dominates as usual with factory deliveries up 6% year-on-year to 346.739, and according to BSCB records this is VW’s largest ever monthly wholesale volume in China, boosted by new volume records for the Bora (32.585) and Magotan (29.297) while the Tiguan drops 15%. Tellingly, 6 of the 8 best-selling sedans in China in January are VW nameplates. Geely manages the incredible feat of a 5th consecutive all-time record volume, lifting it to 148.916, up a smashing 46% year-on-year. Just as the Boyue remains above 30.000 monthly sales for the 4th time in a row, the Emgrand GS (20.987) posts its 7th consecutive monthly record and the Vision (20.055), Emgrand GL (15.163) and Vision S1 (10.303) also hit all-time bests. Honda soars 38% to its third highest monthly volume ever at 138.306 (below the 151.587 of December 2015 and the 140.963 of December 2014) with the Accord up 54%, the CR-V up 20%, the Vezel up 34%, the Crider up 38% and the Avancier up 142%.

The Baojun is now the most successful car launch in history, both in China and in the world.

Toyota surges 31% to break a new volume record at 129.336, almost 20.000 units above the previous best of 110.802 set in December 2014. Up 78% to 46.735 deliveries, the Corolla sets a new monthly volume record for a Japanese nameplate in China (beating the Nissan Sylphy’s 45.232 from November 2016) while the RAV4 is at its highest since December 2013. Changan is down 8% to 114.373 but sees the CS55 beat its volume record at 23.209, while Buick is down 4% to 112.344. Baojun is up 23% year-on-year but down 32% on December to 94.966 as the 510 crossover posts a 5th all-time record in a row, adding 4.000 units to its December score to 58.006 but bizarrely 560 model sales are not reported by the brand. Note only four nameplates have managed to cross the 60.000 monthly unit-mark in all of China’s history: the Wuling Hongguang (record of 82.543 in December 2016), the Haval H6 (80.495 in December 2016), Wuling Sunshine (73.302 in January 2011) and VW Lavida (61.568 in January 2014). With 416.883 sales in 12 months, the Baojun 510 has now become the best-selling new car ever introduced in the world, beating the previous record held for the past 40 years by the Ford Fairmont with 405.780 units sold in its first 12 months in the US in 1978.

The Haval H6 is the #1 vehicle in China outright for the 5th time, all in the past 22 months.

In 8th place in the brands ranking, Nissan gains 16% to 94.595 units with the Qashqai hitting a new high at 16.519. Haval drops 4% to 78.459 but places the H6 in the overall models pole position thanks to sales up 29% to 59.133. It is the 5th time the H6 is the best-selling nameplate in China outright after April 2016, November 2016, July 2017 and October 2017. Rounding up the Top 10 whereas it ranked at a paltry #25 in December, Audi shoots up 35% to 69.194 wholesales – a new record, with the Q5 beating its volume record at 16.688. Both Mercedes (+34%) and BMW (+37%) also post their all-time wholesale monthly volume records with no less than three Mercedes nameplates reaching an all-time high wholesale volume: the C Class L (18.408), E Class L (15.041) and GLC (13.152) while two BMWs break records: the 3 Series L (14.370) and X1 (9.984).

Audi, Mercedes and BMW are all at record levels this month, with sedans doing the heavy lifting.

Other foreign carmakers posting sizeable wholesale gains in January include Jaguar (+190%), Mitsubishi (+96%) with the Outlander hitting a new high at 11.565 units, Land Rover (+94%), Citroen (+68%) even though the new C5 Aircross is down a steep 59% on December, Cadillac (+60%) with the XT5 the first Cadillac nameplate to crack 10.000 monthly sales in China (10.385, up 90%), Volvo (+53%), Chevrolet (+39%), Mazda (+27%) with the 3 Axela breaking a record at 15.952 sales (+63%) and Renault (+7%) setting a new benchmark at 9.000 units. Foreign manufacturers in difficulty this month include DS (-71%), Suzuki (-44%), Ford (-30%) hampered by the Kuga (-72%) and Edge (-62%), and Hyundai (-24%) even though the ix35 is boosted by the new generation to its 2nd largest monthly volume at 16.540 (record: 17.431 in Dec-14) and just as sister brand Kia rallies back up 1%.

Renault breaks its monthly volume record in China to 9.000.

Among Chinese manufacturers, some of the best performers in January are Yema (+350%), Qoros (+248%), MG (+166%) with the ZS posting its first ever five-digit result (10.913) and the 6 up 11-fold on the previous generation, Bisu (+98%), Brilliance (+81%) bolstered by the new V6 crossover, Maxus (+78%), Venucia (+69%), Soueast (+58%) helped by the DX3 hitting an all-time high (13.589), Roewe (+57%) with the RX3 at a new high (9.963), Weichai (+49%), BYD (+47%), GAC Trumpchi (+32%) as the GS3 breaks a new record (7.482), Zotye (+32%), Hanteng (+28%) and Leopaard (+22%) with a new all-time high for the CS9 (7.241). Those in difficulty this month include Hawtai (-82%), Jinbei (-75%), Cowin (-66%), Landwind (-65%), SWM (-59%), JMC (-58%), Changhe (-57%), Great Wall (-54%), Karry (-36%) and JAC (-32%).

The new 6 (+985%) helps lift MG sales up 166% in January.

Great Wall’s semi premium SUV brand WEY remains by far the most popular new brand launch of the past 12 months in China, eclipsing 20.000 monthly sales for the third time in a row. It is followed at a distance by Geely’s own premium marque, Lynk & Co, up a slim 2.7% on its inaugural score last month. We welcome new local brands Traum (1.518), Yudo (356) and Xpeng (39) in the local charts in January – all the new launches are covered in a separate update as always. As for December launches, the Chery Tiggo 5X is still in the lead but drops a heavy 30% to 7.527, the Changan Raeton CC is up 18% to 6.421, the Lynk & Co 01 up 2.7% to 6.173, the Jaguar XEL down 20% to 1.062, the GAC Trumpchi GM8 up 82% to 1.001 and the Arcfox Lite down 87% to just 60 sales, but far from showing a poor reception, this drop has more to do with the fact that BAIC had filled December wholesales up to benefit from the maximum amount of subsidies for 2017.

Previous post: China Full Year 2017: Geely becomes #1 Chinese brand, market up 3.2%

Previous month: China December 2017: Geely, Baojun and Zotye end year at record levels

One year ago: China January 2017: Audi tumbles down 35% in market down 1.1%

Full January 2018 Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 425 models below.

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