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China Retail March 2019: Honda (+30.5%), BMW (+80%), BYD (+59.7%) fly off in market down a subdued -5.3%

The CR-V (+897.2%) helps Honda up 30.5% this month.

Now that the turbulence of the Lunar New Year holiday has passed, retail sales in China drop a very subdued -5.3% year-on-year in March to 1.567.709 for our set of vehicles including some light commercials and pickups. A pre-holiday rush in January enables the Q1 volume to drop just -0.6% to 5.116.711, a very good sign for the remainder of the year. Note Q1 data will be covered in a separate article. Retail sales are a new monthly Chinese update on BSCB since February 2018 for locally-made vehicles, imports being covered in separate monthly updates. If wholesales correspond to ex-factory shipments, retail sales are those to end customers, taking the marketing edge off the wholesales figures and giving a more realistic account of the reality of the market on the ground.

In March brand leader Volkswagen (-7.2%) falls a little faster than the market as its lineup of new SUVs can’t return to the heights they reached last January: the Tayron is 18% below it January record, the T-Roc 35% below and the Tharu 47% below. If some blockbusters such as the Lavida (+2.2%), Passat (+1.5%), Jetta (-0.9%) and Bora (-7.6%) are holding ok, it’s deep losses for the Magotan (-33.6%), Lamando (-28.4%), Sagitar (-25.5%), Teramont (-24.4%), Tiguan (-22.6%), Polo (-16.4%), Santana (-13.6%) and Golf (-11.2%) that tip the balance into frank negative for the German carmaker.

The BMW X3 is the best-selling newcomer, lifting BMW up 80%

The next 3 best-selling brands are Japanese and all swimming upstream with positive results. At #2 Honda (+30.5%) is the most impressive thanks to the CR-V (+897.2%) which was in between generations a year ago, the Fit (+84.6%), Crider (+65%), Civic (+41.6%), Avancier (+14.3%) and Vezel (+10%) with the Odyssey (+3.3%) and Accord (+1.6%) also edging up. Toyota (+6.2%) leaps up one spot on last month to #3, benefitting from its latest launches almost catching up to their January records: the C-HR is at 90% and IZOA 84%, as well as strong showings from the Highlander (+126.9%), Yaris L Sedan (+47.4%), Yaris L (+41.7%), Prado (+21.9%) and Levin (+9.4%). Finally we have Nissan (+3.4%) at #4 lifted by its best-seller the Sylphy (+17.2%), the Qashqai (+13.1%), Tiida (+10.6%) and X-Trail (+7.9%).

In 5th place overall Geely (-17.5%) drops two spots on last month and loses the #3 spot YTD to Toyota. Its two latest volume-drivers the Binyue (-45%) and Binrui (-56%) fall way below their January records, while the new Jiaji (1.112) isn’t yet significantly contributing to the brand’s overall volumes. The Vision SUV (-45.3%), Boyue (-44.2%), Emgrand GL (-38.1%) and Emgrand GS (-33.8%) penalise the #1 Chinese carmaker. If Wuling (-13.1%) manages to contain its loss once again, Haval (+34.9%) is now firmly on the rebound thanks to the new F7 (7.827) and F5 (2.380), the M6 (+177%) and its perennial best-seller the H6 (+3%) also holding up. The 3 German premium brands all fit within the Top 12 and are all in positive. Mercedes (+23.2%) distances BMW (+80%) posting the best performance in the Top 25 for the 2nd month running and Audi (+0.1%) a lot more timid.

BYD sales are up 59.7% year-on-year in March.

Although the signs of recovery are here, double-digit gains remain rare: only Qoros (+304.1%), JMC (+95.8%), BYD (+59.7%), Volvo (+35%), Lynk & Co (+30.3%) and Jinbei (+28.2%) manage that feat in the Top 40. Jetour (5.974) remains by far the most popular recent brand launch (<12 months) but can’t reach half of its January record volume despite the addition of the X90. Bestune (3.370) follows while Weltmwister (1.413) and COS (1.390) are the only additional launches managing a 4-digit figure. The naughty corner includes Zotye (-72.4%), Haima (-72.1%), Renault (-63%), Peugeot (-60.9%), Soueast (-59.6%), Leopaard (-56.3%), FAW (-55.2%), Land Rover (-53.7%), Citroen (-48.1%), Baojun (-43.3%), WEY (-42.8%), Ford (-41.9%) and Jeep (-38.3%).

Model-wise, the Nissan Sylphy takes the overall lead for the 4th time in the past 12 months after last May, June and December, overtaking the VW Lavida, the latter however remaining in the YTD top spot. The Toyota Corolla (-21.6%) makes it three sedans on the podium ahead of last month’s winner the Wuling Hongguang (-24%). In fact there are 7 sedans in the Top 10 with the only odd ones being the Haval H6 at #7 and the VW Tiguan at #9. The VW Jetta, Santana, Honda Civic and Accord complete the Top 10.

The Dongfeng Rich 6 is now part of our Retail models set.

The Roewe i5 (#32) continues to be the most popular recent launch (<12 months) ahead of the BMW X3 (#49), Geely Binyue (#53), Haval F7 (#58), VW T-Roc (#63), Tharu (#67), Audi Q5L (#73), Baojun 360 (#74) and Changan CS35 Plus (#80). This month the set of models included in this retail update gets a little larger, including more pickup trucks in the list. As such we welcome the Great Wall Wingle 7 (#125), JMC Yuhu 3 (#163), JAC T6 (#203), Dongfeng Zhengzhou Rich 6 (#214), Isuzu D-Max (#282), ZX Auto Terralord (#414) and Maxus T60 (#509) but also some “real” newcomers such as the COS 1° (#268), COS Cosmos (#383), Sitech DEV1 (#511), Chevrolet Monza (#602) and Toyota Avalon (#615).

Previous month: China Retail February 2019: BMW (+24.2%) only Top 25 brand in positive in market back down -34.4%

One year ago: China Retail March 2018: Toyota Corolla surprise leader

Full March 2019 Top 101 All-brands and Top 642 All-models below.

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