Now that the Chinese government has made it clear that it would not prop the market up by reducing the purchase tax as it did last time sales tilted into negative, new vehicle sales in China are now free to freefall until the market has adjusted. Accordingly, November marks the 5th consecutive month of year-on-year decline at -13.9% to 2.547.800 wholesales (factory shipments), almost exactly echoing a 14% decline in October retail sales. This confirms the role of “market predictor” our new retail sales coverage is offering you, as declining retail sales are replicated on order books and factory shipments the following month. This is the steepest year-on-year fall since January 2012 when sales were artificially hampered by the timing of the Lunar New Year Holiday. As a result, as we predicted last month the YTD volume now tilts into negative at -1.7% and 25.419.700 units. The CAAM (China Association of Automobile Manufacturers) predicts 2018 down 3% at 28 million and a frozen 2019 at 28 million units also.
What started as a sudden and surprising plateauing of SUV demand last June (-0.5%) and translated into a market decline in July (-5.3%) has now escalated into a full-blown depression that will linger well into 2019, making the CAAM’s prediction of a stable market next year relatively optimistic. As it has now been the case for the last few months, all segments of the passenger car market are now in a negative spiral, with the overall decline only softened thanks to strong commercial vehicles sales up 1.7% to 374.300 units whereas light vehicles sink 16.1% to 2.173.500. Sedans are down 11.9% to 1.076.300 units, SUVs down 18.1% to 908.900, MPVs down 30.8% to 150.000 and microvans down 7.2% to 38.300. The difference with last month is that now all segments are also down YTD, with SUVs tilting towards the dark side at -0.8% to 9.015.000 wholesales, just as sedans drop 1.4% to 10.499.100, MPVs skid 16.1% to 1.558.500 and microvans dive 18.1% to 405.700. Total light vehicles are down 2.8% to 21.478.400 with commercial vehicles once again softening the blow at +5% to 3.941.300 units leading to a total market down 1.7% to 25.419.700.
New energy vehicles (EV and PHEV) more than ever constitute the last corner of growth with sales up 38% year-on-year this month to 169.000 units including 138.000 EVs and 31.000 PHEVs. This brings electrified total sales YTD above 1 million for the first time in history at 1.030.000 units, up 68% on the same period in 2017, that’s 791.000 EVs and 239.000 PHEVs. As we described in our exclusive analysis of the SUV slump phenomenon linked to a government crackdown on P2P digital lending platforms, it’s Chinese passenger car brands that have taken the brunt of the market decline so far. This is true again in November with Chinese brands down 23.3% year-on-year to 909.900 units and 41.9% share of the passenger car market, almost four percentage point below its level of a year ago (45.8% in November 2017). German brands resist well with stable factory shipments (+0.3%) to 463.600 resulting in a much improved share at 21.3% vs. 17.8% a year ago. Japanese brands actually gain significant ground at 8.1% to 438.500 sales and 20.2% share vs. 15.7% in November 2017. Affected by the trade war waged between the two countries, U.S. brands are down 32.7% or almost one-third to 213.700 sales and 9.8% share vs. 12.3% a year ago and Korean brands continue to suffer greatly at -23.4% to 111.000 units and 5.1% share vs. 5.6%. Lastly, let’s spare a thought for French brands, imploding 70% year-on-year to just 16.900 units and 0.8% share vs. 56.400 and 2.2% in November 2017…
Looking at the China-made brands factory shipments ranking, after two months of double-digit declines Volkswagen (-3%) rallies back up to a slim drop in November. As we predicted a couple of months ago, the aggressive SUV attack the German carmaker has launched onto the Chinese market this year is now bearing fruit: the new Tharu in particular breaks the symbolic 10.000 monthly sales barrier (10.547) for its 3rd appearance in the sales charts, the T-Roc (8.298) has been above 7.500 sales for the past 4 months and the Tayron (5.558) is crossing the 5.000 sales milestone after 3 months in market, while the Tiguan (-5%) is stable as the 3rd best-selling SUV in the country. These strong performances compensate paltry showings by most of the carmaker’s sedan lineup: the C-Trek (-63%), Phideon (-42%), CC (-37%), Polo (-27%), Bora (-21%), Golf (-18%) and Magotan (-17%) while the Teramont SUV (-59%) crumbles, but the Passat (+22%), Jetta (+1%), Santana (-0.2%), Lamando (-2%), Lavida (-8%) and Sagitar (-10%) manage to outpace the market.
In 2nd place Honda gains 10% to pass the 150.000 monthly wholesales mark for only the 2nd time n the carmaker’s history after December 2015 (151.587), Honda and Volkswagen being the only brands to have ever crossed that milestone in China. The majority of Honda’s strong sellers post very satisfying gains, such as the Crider (+78%), Civic (+45%), Accord (+36%) and Fit (+27%). Toyota surges 36% in third place to break its all-time volume record at 132.726 (previous best 129.366 last January), helped by the new C-HR/IZOA duo now adding up to 13.160 sales, the Camry (+7760%), Prado (+106%), RAV4 (+15%) and Corolla (+12%). Geely (-8%) remains by far the most popular local brand but continues to drop as excellent performances by the new Binrui (10.197) and Binyue (10.139 for its first month) can’t compensate steep falls for the Boyue (-37%), Emgrand GS (-32%), Emgrand (-26%), Vision (-20%) and Vision SUV (20%). Nissan (-8%) rounds up the Top 5 ahead of Haval (+9%) managing a second consecutive uptick and its first 6-digit sales figure in two years (since December 2016) thanks to the newfound stability of its best-seller the H6 (+0.2%), the successful launch of the F5 (13.330 in 2 months) and F7 (6.067 for its first month) and the late gearing up of the M6 (new record at 14.098). The remainder of the Top 10 brands is a sorry look: Buick (-23%), Hyundai (-25%), Changan (-36%) and Baojun (-48%) all fall faster than an already freefalling market.
Below, let’s single out the very good health of premium fares BMW (+27%), Mercedes (+10%), Cadillac (+31%) and Volvo (+14%) while Audi (-3%) still manages to limit its fall to 1/5th of the market. Other gaining marques are very rare indeed and include Qoros (+103%) missing out on a new record by 11 units at 7.018, MG (+60%) lodging 2nd best-ever tally at 23.042, Infiniti (+76%), JMC (+50%) thanks to a strong EV lineup, SWM (+41%) at a new record 7.446, BYD (+9%), Roewe (+8%) posting its 2nd largest ever volume at 42.919 and GAC Trumpchi (+4%). Reversely, the list of freefalling manufacturers is almost endless, with the hardest hit among foreigners including Luxgen (-96%), Renault (-82%), Suzuki (-79%), DS (-76%), Peugeot (-71%), Ford (-70%), Citroen (-66%), Land Rover (-61%), Jeep (-52%), Mazda (-43%) and Acura (-42%). Among Chinese brands, the following would rather forget 2018 and November in particular: Bisu (-80%), Haima (-80%), Brilliance (-77%), Soueast (-76%), FAW (-74%), Landwind (-70%), Karry (-69%), Lifan (-68%), Weichai (-60%), Zotye (-58%), Leopaard (-55%), Dongfeng (-49%), BAIC (-48%), Borgward (-47%), Maxus (-44%), WEY (-44%) and JAC (-40%).
Lynk & Co (12.321) remains the most popular brand launch of the past 12 months, again outselling archenemy WEY (11.379) but ending 8 consecutive record months with the gearing up of the 03 sedan (from 965 sales last month to 4.011) failing to compensate the sudden fall of the 01 (-37% on October despite a new hybrid variant) and 02 (-48%). Jetour (9.509) continues its stunning run, managing with a single model (X70) to outsell such established brands as Peugeot, Jeep or Citroen. We welcome Bestune (ex-FAW Besturn) directly inside the Top 50 thanks to 4.207 units of the striking T77 – more about it in the upcoming November 2018 edition of our Focus on All-new models, EV brand Link Tour takes off at 4.204 sales (+686% on October), while NIO (3.349), Dorcen (2.990), COS (1.843), Dearcc (1.126) and Ora (1.043) all beat their all-time volume record. Notice also Fukang landing at #86 with 61 sales.
Over in the models ranking, the Nissan Sylphy (+32%) has many raisons to celebrate this month: it is the best-selling vehicle in the country for the first time in history, a ranking it has already held in our retail charts due to some models being split into different versions. The Sylphy reached its first podium back in November 2013 and stepped up to #2 for the first time last April, repeating that performance in May, June, August and September. At 55.040 sales including 2.400 of the new EV variant, it smashes its previous best (45.232 in November 2016) by almost 10.000 units and crosses the 50.000 monthly unit milestone for the very first time – becoming the 8th nameplate to do so in Chinese history and only the 2nd sedan after the VW Lavida. The Sylphy is now the 6th most successful nameplate ever, ranking below the Wuling Hongguang (record at 82.543), Haval H6 (80.495), Wuling Sunshine (73.302), VW Lavida (61.568) and Baojun 510 (58.006), and the most successful Japanese, beatng the Toyota Corolla (46.735 last January). For the first time since last January three nameplates are above 50.000 wholesales this month, with the Haval H6 (54.226) and Wuling Hongguang (51.117) rounding up the podium.
Below the VW Lavida (-8%) knocked from its pedestal at #4 but still comfortably in the lead YTD with 463.000 sales (-1%), the Toyota Corolla (+12%) signs another very solid month even though it is about to be replaced by a new generation, the VW Jetta (+1%) manages a further 32.000 sales and the Chevrolet Cavalier (+29%) cracks the Top 10 and breaks its volume record at 27.557. The Baojun 510 (-44%) and Buick Excelle GT (-16%) don’t fare so well however. Further down, notice the Roewe i5 smashing its volume record at 12.942 (previous best 5.095 last month), with other record-breakers including the BMW X3 (8.250), Hyundai La Festa (8.063), Chery Tiggo 8 (7.586), Toyota IZOA (7.578), BYD Qin Pro (7.456), Haval F5 (7.065), WEY VV6 (5.001), SWM G01 (4.786), Qoros 3 (4.304), Dongfeng Glory IX5 (4.214), Chery Arrizo GX (4.078) and Dorcen G70s (2.990) already outselling all Zotye nameplates – a carmaker with which it is closely related – for its 2nd month in market. The BYD Tang (+477%), Kia Sportage (+218%), Hyundai ix35 (+192%), Buick Regal (+87%), Mercedes E-Class L (+35%), MG ZS (+32%) and Mercedes C-Class L (+23%) also make themselves noticed. In the New Energy aisle, the BAIC EC-Series (14.205) comfortably holds onto the top spot, followed by the BYD Tang EV (6.405), BYD Yuan EV (6.188), JMC E200 (5.692), BYD e5 (5.573), BYD Qin Pro Hybrid (5.243) and Baojun E100 (5.155).
Full November 2018 Top 90 All China-made brands and Top 480 All China-made models below.