* See the Top 75 China-made brands and Top 415 models by clicking on the title *
In 2017, the Chinese New Year holiday ran from January 27 to February 2, affecting January car sales adversely (-1.1%) while February caught up (+22%). This year the reverse has happened: January was surprisingly strong (+12%) but February is down as the New Year Holiday ran from February 15 to 21, putting a spanner in the works of local car sales. According to statistics compiled by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, light vehicle sales are down 9.6% to 1.475.500 units, with sedans down 12% to 677.000, SUVs uncharacteristically down 3.1% to 651.300, MPVs down 18% to 121.500 and microvans down 40.3% to 25.700. Commercial vehicle sales are hit the hardest at -19.2% to 241.100 units, resulting in a total new vehicle market skidding down 11.2% to 1.717.600 sales.
Among passenger cars, Chinese-branded vehicles are down 11.1% in February to 692.920 or 47.4% market share, compared with 294.400 and 19.9% for German cars, 227.400 and 15.4% for Japanese, 167.750 and 11.3% for American, 57.100 and 3.9% for South Korean and 19.400 and 1.3% for French cars. Year-to-date, the Chinese new passenger car market edges up 2.1% to a record 3.931.700 sales, with sedans down 0.7% to 1.835.700, SUVs up 11.6% to 1.734.400, MPVs down 15.3% to 300.010 and microvans down 34.7% to 61.400. Commercial vehicles are down 0.7% to 595.000 units, resulting in a Chinese total new vehicle market up just 1.7% to 4.526.700 sales.
This month we are inaugurating more detailed reporting for China, the largest new vehicle market in the world: we will shortly add a second monthly report dedicated to retail sales by brand and models, and this first update will now be entirely focused on wholesales figures. Market leader Volkswagen resists somewhat at -5% to just above 180.000 units, but Geely continues on its extremely impressive run with sales surging another 19% to 106.231 units, very aggressively cementing its #2 position in the market, leaving Honda (-1%) almost 30.000 sales behind.
Baojun manages to leap another 10% to almost 77.000 units – for the second month in a row oddly not reporting a single 560 coming out of factories, with Changan (-27%) dropping below 70.000 deliveries but making it three Chinese brands in the Top 5. Dongfeng (-21%), Toyota (-22%) and most strikingly Haval (-37%) all fall heavily in the Top 10 while Nissan (+5%) and Buick (+0.3%) both manage a positive result. Some manufacturers do deliver spectacular gains, such as Qoros (+233%), not really used to such honours, Jaguar (+123%), Bisu (+90%), MG (+77%), Maxus (+71%), Cadillac (+49%), Roewe (+43%), Infiniti (+38%), Hanteng (+34%), Venucia (+30%), Audi (+27%) and Chevrolet (+27%).
However this month brings an unusually long list of carmakers in very precarious positions. Keep in mind these are wholesales, ex-factory deliveries, which manufacturers can tune up or down drastically to adapt to retail and dealerships needs. Chinese brands are particularly affected, among them Landwind (-80%), Cowin (-78%), Hawtai (-78%), Jinbei (-77%), Foton-owned Borgward (-69%), JMC (-67%), Haima (-64%), Changhe (-60%), Zhi Dou (-58%), Great Wall (-57%), Yema (-51%) all lose more than half their sales vs. February 2017. Among foreign carmakers, Luxgen (-69%) is the worst hit, and the nightmarish 2017 year of Peugeot (-42%) and Hyundai (-41%) has now seeped through 2018. Jeep (-41%), Suzuki (-41%), DS (-40%), Ford (-30%) and Kia (-30%) are also in great difficulty.
In the battle of the French, pure imported recently turned local producer Renault (5.800) outsells for the first time compatriot Citroen (5.332) down 15% with the all-new C5 Aircross worryingly falling below 1.000 monthly units in February. WEY remains the most poplar recent brand launch in the country at #31 but its volume dives from 20.289 in January to just 8.529 this month a steep 58% tumble. A fair way below we find Lynk & Co at #47 with 4.012 sales, down 35% on January, while Traum manages to keep sales stables on last month despite the surrounding decline, up 2.4% to 1.555. Acura is down 41% on last month to #68, Yudo is down 44% to #70, Arcfox is stable at #72, Dearcc reappears in the Chinese sales charts at #74 and Xpeng is down 77% to just 9 sales this month.
Over in the models ranking, the Wuling Hongguang manages to cling back onto the overall pole position for the third time in the past four months, this thanks to the S3 SUV variant oddly not counted as a separate model even though it belongs to a different segment. But the big news of the month is delivered by the Baojun 510, celebrating one year in market by overtaking the Haval H6 for the very first time – and by almost 10.000 units, becoming the best-selling SUV in China for the first time. The Haval H6 had managed to hold onto the SUV crown continuously since July 2013, that’s 55 consecutive months. The 510 even snaps the YTD pole position after two months. Like in January the podium is 100% Chinese, with the VW Lavida (-16%) and Toyota Corolla (-17%) rounding up the Top 5.
The VW Tiguan (+10%) shoots up 9 spots on last month to #6, followed closely by the Roewe RX5 (+77%) and Geely Boyue (+1%). At #10, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-26%) makes it six SUVs in the February Top 10 vs. just three sedans. The Geely Emgrand EC7 leaps up to #11, its highest ranking since November 2013. The Baojun 310 is back up to #14, the Changan CS55 advances to a record #17, the Geely Vision breaks into the Top 20 for the first time at #19, with the recently relaunched Hyundai ix35 (+169%), BYD Song (+168%), Honda Accord (+117%), Audi A4L (+100%), Buick Verano (+85%), Chevrolet Sail (+61%) and VW Passat (+52%) all posting spectacular gains in the Top 50.
Among recent launches (<12 months), below the Changan CS55, the BYD Song MAX (#35), Geely Vision X3 (#40), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (#65), Geely Vision S1 (#70), Dongfeng Fengxing S560 (#71), Roewe i6 (#74), Leopaard CS9 (#87), Venucia D60 (#88), Kia KX Cross (#89) and WEY VV5 (#99) all fit within the Top 100, that’s 9 Chinese nameplates and just one foreigner, and 7 SUVs vs. just 3 sedans and 1 MPV. As far as January launches are concerned, the Traum S70 remains ahead, gaining 41 spots to #241, followed by the Skoda Karoq at #211 (+130), FAW Junpai A50 at #215 (+134) and GAC Trumpchi GA4 (#235).
Full February 2018 Top 75 China-made brands and Top 415 models below.