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China Wholesales April 2019: Honda (+23.1%), Toyota (+22.2%), BMW (+31.3%) stun in market back in hell (-14.6%)

Launched in March, the new Avalon sells 6.241 units in April, helping Toyota up 22.2%

After showing signs of a reprive in March (-5.2%), new vehicles wholesales in China tumble down -14.6% in April to 1.980.500 units. Sedan sales match the market at -14.8% to 791.200 units but SUVs truly struggle at -20% to 647.800 and MPVs implode at -30.7% to 95.100. Once again the commercial sector prevents the overall market loss to be even more dramatic with minivans up 4.8% to 40.800 and commercial vehicles up 0.1% to 405.600. Passenger cars as a whole are down a scary -17.7% to 1.574.900 units. Year-to-date, Chinese wholesales drop -12.1% to 8.353.300 including 6.837.600 passenger cars (-14.6%) and 1.515.800 commercial vehicles (+1.5%). In the PC detail, sedans are down -12.6% to 3.314.600, SUVs down -15.8% to 2.918.800, MPVs down -24.2% to 464.900 and minivans down -1.7% to 139.400. New Energy Vehicles gain 18.1% to 97.000, including 71.000 EVs (+9.6%), 26.000 PHEVs (+50.9%) and 7 FCEVs (-87.5%).

Chinse brands are hit full frontal again at -27.9% year-on-year to 584.700 wholesales and 37.1% share of the PC market vs. 42.5% a year ago. If German brands resist well at -1% to 386.900 and 24.6% share vs. 20.4% in April 2018, it’s Japanese brands that remain the most dynamic with a market-defying 4.5% uptick to 354.600 units and 22.5% share vs. 17.7% a year ago. South Korean (-27.6% to 74.600), American (-31.5% to 141.400) and French brands (-70.2% to 10.200) all dive. Year-to-date, the Chinese drop -22.3% to 2.770.000 and 40.5% share, Germans are down -5.7% to 1.572.600, Japanese up 5.1% to 1.414.400, American down -26.4% to 648.500, South Korean down -6.1% to 326.600 and French down -62.8% to 51.300.

Honda sells a record 5.590 Envix in April.

Brand leader Volkswagen (-1%) resists a lot better than the market as its new SUV onslaught is hitting the mark even though the Tiguan is hurt (-37.3%): the Tharu (12.129), T-Roc (8.438) and Tayron (7.083) are joined by the T-Cross (record 3.719) while the Teramont (-14.6%) is holding ok. A few sedans are also helping such as the CC (+110.9%), Passat (+25%), C-Trek (+13.6%), Bora (+10.3%), Lavida (+5.7%) which remains the best-selling nameplate overall and the Sagitar (+3.3%). But the heroes atop the charts are elsewhere and both Japanese: Honda (+23.1%) is still surfing on the success of the new gen Accord (+524.3%) hitting its highest ranking since December 2014 at #7, but also the new gen CR-V (+360.4%), Envix (record 5.590), Inspire (record 5.038), Gienia (+202.2%), Greiz (+121.3%), Fit (+41.9%), Crider (+32.7%), UR-V (+29.7%) and Avancier (+11.1%). Toyota (+22.2%) is almost as strong in swimming upstream, helped by the arrival of the Avalon (record 6.241), C-HR (4.038) and IZOA (3.913) but also the Vios (+49.2%), Prado (+45.1%), Corolla (+32.9%), Vios FS (+21.8%) and Camry (+21.5%).

As impressive as these two carmakers are, they can’t quite match BMW (+31.3%) at #9, posting the largest gain in the Top 35 thanks to the new X3 (record 9.917) and 3 Series L (+16.6%). Mercedes (+5.1%) also shines thanks to the new A-Class L (4.346), C-Class L (+7.6%) and E-Class L (+1.9%). The last gainer in the Top 10 is Haval (+6.2%) managing a 7th consecutive uptick just as the F7 (10.140) and M6 (+147.6%) continue to compensate for a -17.5% skid by the brand’s best-seller the H6, yet still the #1 SUV in the country by a comfortable margin. But in the rest of the market, the hecatomb is such this month that the additional brands in positive in the remainder of the Top 35 can be counted on one hand: Volvo (+26.6%), MG (+1.9%) Lynk & Co (+0.3%) and BYD (+0.04%)… Jetour (#32) continues to easily top all newly launched brands ahead of Ora (#44) and Bestune (#50) as we welcome Exeed (#51) and Geometry (#65) this month. As for EV start-ups, Xpeng (#49) is in the lead with a record 2.200 units, followed by Nio (#60) and Weltmeister (#62). In contrast Beijing Auto (-70.7%), Dongfeng (-52.7%), Ford (-45.6%), WEY (-44.5%), Changan (-42.9%), Mazda (-42.4%), JAC (-39.1%), GAC Trumpchi (-37.8%), Zotye (-35%), Buick (-30.6%), Skoda (-30.4%), Kia (-28.9%), Venucia (-28.3%), Hyundai (-27.1%), Wuling (-27.1%), Chevrolet (+26.9%), Geely (-21.7%) all somber into darkness.

The RS-5 has been handed the daunting task of single-handedly turning around Baojun’s fortunes this year.

One particularly interesting case is Baojun (-63.8%) enduring a 9th consecutive month of double-digit decline and its steepest so far, dropping to its lowest ranking in 3 years (since June 2016) at #18 and its lowest monthly volume in almost 5 years (since September 2014) at just 25.554. This to be compared with a record 140.268 units in December 2017 and 58.006 wholesales of the Baojun 510 alone a little over a year ago in January 2018… What happened? As we described in our Shanghai Auto Show 2019 summary, Baojun is trying to reinvent itself at the moment with a new logo and a new, more upmarket offer, the RS-5. April is the month when RS-5 wholesales have stepped up at a record 5.102 units, making it the brand’s 2nd best-seller below the 530 (-60.7%). But this is being done to the detriment of all other nameplates: the 510 is down an unspeakable -86.8%, with the 310 (-68.8%), 730 (-61.6%) and even the new 360 (-72.4% on March) in dire straits. Given the RS-5 will be lonely bearing the weight of the brand’s new aspiration this year (no new launches have been announced just yet), 2019 could end up being a make or break year for Baojun, something that would have been very hard to predict just a year ago.

Looking at the models ranking, the VW Lavida (+5.7%), Toyota Corolla (+32.9%) and Nissan Sylphy (-12.6%) form a podium 100% sedan with the Haval H6 (-17.5%) just below and the VW Sagitar (+3.3%) cracking the Top 5.  The Nissan X-Trail (+10.6%) is the 2nd best-selling SUV for the 2nd month running, with the Geely Binyue (12.784) pointing at #6 SUV and the most popular recent launch (<12 months) above the VW Tharu (#31), Chevrolet Monza (#40), Haval F7 (#41), BMW X3 (#45), Jetour X70 (#49) and VW T-Roc (#54). The Cadillac XT4 (5.849), Geely Jiaji (4.036) now 6th best-selling SUV and Xpeng G3 (2.200) also post record volumes, just as we welcome the Exeed TX (#186) and Geometry A (#258) which we will cover in our April 2019 update dedicated to All-new models.

Previous post: China Wholesales Q1 2019: Sedans reclaim supremacy in market down -11.3% yet showing signs of recovery

Previous month:  China Wholesales March 2019: Market decline thaws to -5.2%, lowest rate and first single-digit since last August

One year ago: China Wholesales April 2018: Geely, Hyundai, Chevrolet lift market up 11.5%

Full April 2019 Top 93 All China-made brands and Top 472 All-models below.

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