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China December 2018 Retail: Honda (+21%), Toyota (+27%) impress in market down 24.8% or 830.000 units year-on-year

Chinese luxury marque Hongqi is up 422% year-on-year in December partly thanks to the new H5.

After covering December and Full Year 2018 wholesales data for China, it’s now time for us to explore Chinese retail sales, a new monthly update on BSCB since February 2018 taking the marketing edge off the wholesales figures that represent factory shipments and include some exports. Retail sales are sales to end-customers (=registrations) and give a better account of the reality of the market on the ground. And the news isn’t great: after imploding -23.2% in November, Chinese retail sales plunge a spectacular -24.8% to just 2.529.297 units vs. 3.361.489 in December 2017. This brings the Full Year 2018 retail figure of the selection of models covered here to 21.660.650 units. Keep in mind this update covers China-made vehicles only, with imports treated in separate updates.

The VW T-Roc crosses the 10.000 monthly retail sales milestone for the first time in December.

Brand leader Volkswagen (-20%) falls slightly lower than the market but still loses 85.000 units compared to its December 2017 score. Reassuringly confirming strong wholesales scores, the new T-Roc (10.836), Tharu (9.391) and Tayron (5.754) all break retail volume records this month, with the Jetta (+2%), Passat (-1%) and Magotan (-2%) managing to stay stable but the Lamando (-53%), Polo (-38%), Santana (-35%), Sagitar (-30%), Lavida (-28%), Golf (-23%) and Teramont (-18%) are all in difficulty. In contrast, Honda (+21%) and Toyota (+27%) are two islands of stunning growth in a deeply depressed market, in fact the only Top 12 manufacturers to post any gain at all.

Struggling in the US, the new generation Honda Accord is an instant blockbuster in China.

Honda is helped by the Crider (+124%), Accord (+86%), Civic (+66%), Odyssey (+43%), XR-V (+39%), Fit (+18%) and Elysion (+15%), outpacing wholesales growth which is a great position to be in. Toyota takes advantage of the new Camry (+2206%), all-time record volumes by the IZOA (5.596), C-HR (4.069) and Highlander (+40%) as well as strong showings by the RAV4 (+22%), Corolla (+13%) and Levin (+8%). Nissan (-1%) manages to stay almost stable as all-time volume records by the Sylphy (+18% to 67.817), Qashqai (+41% to 19.133), X-Trail (+18% to 22.692) and Teana (+14% to 14.570) compensate ghastly scores by the Sunny (-89%), Kicks (-69%), Lannia (-61%) and Tiida (-50%).

The new X3 helps BMW up 20% in December.

All other Top 12 manufacturers drop by the double-digits, with Baojun (-49%), Changan (-41%), Wuling (-40%), Hyundai (-33%) and Geely (-30%) hit the hardest. In the case of Haval (-26%), its recovering wholesales (+21%) haven’t yet been translated into positive retail sales as the freefall of the H6 (-46%), H2 (-60%) and H2s (-55%) aren’t balancing out a surge by the H6 Coupe (+29%) and record volumes by the new F7 (8.167) and F5 (5.643). There’s only 5 brands in positive in the remainder of the Top 35: Audi (+5%), BMW (+20%), Mercedes (+8%), JMC (+41%) and Cadillac (+17%). Further down, Lynk & Co (+706%), Hongqi (+422%), Qoros (+312%), Zinoro (+144%), Horki (+79%), Iveco (+63%), Link Tour (+23%), Volvo (+21%), Infiniti (+11%), Huasong (+9%), Jinbei (+5%) all impress just as Traum (+119500%) and Sinogold (+5556%) celebrate one year in market.

Luxgen sales crumble down 82% in December.

In the naughty corner, given the depressed overall context the list of freefalling brands is a lot longer, but some are in particularly bad shape, such as Luxgen (-82%), Suzuki (-78%), Peugeot (-72%), Ford (-71%), Citroen (-66%), Renault (-63%), Jeep (-51%), Fiat (-50%) and DS (-48%) among foreigners, while among Chinese brands Kandi (-96%), Hawtai (-95%), Zhi Dou (-95%), Bisu (-91%), Haima (-70%), Landwind (-70%), Great Wall (-69%), Denza (-68%), Soueast (-68%), Yema (-67%), Foday (-60%), Zotye (-59%), Hanteng (-58%), Karry (-56%), Borgward (-55%), Cowin (-55%), Weichai (-55%), Chana (-54%), Leopaard (-53%), Lifan (-52%) and FAW (-51%) all lose more than half their December 2017 sales.

The BAIC BJEV EC-Series posts the highest monthly retail volume for a new energy vehicle ever at 37.859 units.

Over in the models ranking, the Nissan Sylphy (+18%) posts the largest retail volume of any nameplate in China this year at 67.817 units, snapping the overall pole position for the third time in the past 8 months after May and June. The VW Lavida (-27%), Jetta (+2%), Buick Excelle Yinlang (-22%) follow while at a record #5 the BAIC BJEV EC-Series gains 15% to 37.859 sales, smashing the volume record for a New Energy nameplate it established a year ago in December 2017 (32.781). December is traditionally strong for retail sales of New Energy vehicles as dealers rush sales before the end of the year to secure green cars government subsidies. The Toyota Corolla (+13%) makes the December Top 6 100% sedan with the Haval H6 (-46%) the best-selling SUV at #7 above the Baojun 510 (-48%) at #12 and the Honda CR-V (-0.04%) at #15. The Roewe i5 is the most popular 2018 launch at #19 and a record 23.770 retail sales (confirming wholesales strength), ahead of the Baojun 360 (#50), VW T-Roc (#66) and Baojun 530 (#70) and Geely Binyue (#72) crossing the 10.000 monthly retail sales milestone.

Previous month: China November 2018 retail sales: Decline spirals to dizzying -23.2%, Toyota and Honda resist

Full December 2018 Top 99 All-brands and Top 665 All-models below.

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