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China Wholesales May 2019: Steepest fall yet (-16.4%) marks 11 straight months of decline. Honda (+18.1%), BMW (+20.6%), Volvo (+28.5%) survive

Honda sales are up 18.1% in a market down -16.4%

Far from building up on the signs of recovery the market showed earlier in the year, Chinese wholesales fall even deeper into depression in May with their steepest year-on-year drop so far at a ghastly -16.4% to 1.912.600 units, marking 11 straight months of decline and an 8th double-digit fall in the past 9 months. One reason behind this particularly harsh drop is the upcoming July 1 enacting of the State 6 emission standards by two thirds of the country’s provinces. Given car buyers won’t be able to obtain licence plates for non-compliant vehicles once the new rules take effect, dealerships are now offering steep discounts to get rid of State 5 vehicles before the deadline. As a result, stockpiles have drastically reduced: from a 60-day to 50-day supply overall, 77 to 53-day for Chinese brands, 52 to 42 for foreign-market brands and 53 to 51 for luxury brands. This also indicates retail sales may see a boost both this month and in June, we’ll be able to verify this later this month – in essence a similar process to the one the  European market spectacularly went through in August-September last year.

Passenger Car wholesales freefall -17.4% to 1.561.200 and this month even Commercial Vehicles fall off a cliff at -11.8% to 351.400. Among PC, sedans/hatches drop -16.6% to 784.300, SUVs are down -15.6% to 642.600, MPV are at -22.4% to 107.900 and minivans almost halve their score at -46% to 26.400. Year-to-date, Chinese wholesales sink -12.9% to 10.265.900 units with Passenger Cars down -15.2% to 8.398.700 and Commercial Vehicles titling into negative at -1.3% to 1.867.200. In the PC detail, sedans are down -13.4% to 4.098.800, SUVs down -15.7% to 3.561.300, MPVs down -23.9% to 572.800 and minivans down -13.1% to 165.800.

The X3 posts its first five-digit sales figure, helping BMW up 20.6%.

Even New Energy vehicles (EVs, PHEVs and FCEVs), once the vigorous last beacon of growth in China, are also about to be engulfed into depression with their meagre May uptick of +1.4% to 104.000 the tiniest in at least half a decade. EVs are up 1.4% to 83.000, PHEVs up 2.2% to 21.000 and FCEVs up 8-fold to a still minuscule 315 sales. Exports are also stuck: down -16.4% to 78.000 including 55.000 Passenger Cars (-20.4%) and 23.000 Commercial Vehicles (-4.5%), with year-to-date figures now firmly in negative territory at -4.9% to 392.000 including 259.000 PC (-14.5%) and 133.000 CV (-21.7%). Looking at brands nationalities, once again the Chinese (-28.1%) fall even faster than their home market to just 564.600 units and 36.2% share of the PC market vs. 41.6% in May 2018. Japanese brands (+1.9%) are the only ones in positive at 372.000 and 23.8% share vs. 19.3% a year ago. The Germans resist extremely well at -5.3% to 382.700 and 24.5% share vs. 21.4% but Americans (-20.4%), Koreans (-33.8%) and French (-69.2%) all take a deep dive. The situation is similar year-to-date with the Chinese down -23.3% to 3.334.600, the Japanese up 4.4% to 1.786.400, German down -5.6%, Koreans down -11.8%, US down -25.3% and French down -64%.

Strikingly, 7 of the Top 8 brands outpace the market, potentially indicating a rush to the most trusted brands which is a usual characteristic of depressed markets. Volkswagen (-7.3%) once again resists a lot better than the market thanks to its new SUV lineup with the Tharu (14.459), T-Roc (10.282) and T-Cross (5.768) all posting record volumes while the Tayron (9.208) is also very high and the Teramont (+10.1%) stuns with a double-digit lift. The Tiguan (-18.1%) almost matches the market which is an impressive feat given the much-increased internal competition. Some sedans are also helping, such as the Bora (+53.2%), Passat (+21%) and Lamando (-5.1%). Once again Honda is the hero atop the charts with a market-defying 18.1% gain thanks to evergreen performances by the Accord (+149.4%), Fit (+88.3%), CR-V (+67.5%) and Odyssey (+25.1%) and the successful launches of the Envix (record 6.690) and Inspire (3.924).

The VW Tharu smashes its monthly volume record to almost 15.000 units.

Toyota (+6.3%) rounds up the brands podium as it does YTD, posting an incredible 14th consecutive year-on-year gain thanks to the Yaris L (+65.1%), Yaris L Sedan (+63%), Prado (+35.6%), Vios (+15.5%), Highlander (+3.9%) and three perfectly-handled launches by the Avalon (record 6.301), C-HR (5.142) and IZOA (4.095), although the Camry (-5.4%), Corolla (-6.3%) and Levin (-53.5%) are taking a break. The last two gainers in the Top 14 are premium Germans: Mercedes (+12%) takes advantage of the new A-Class L (record 7.485) and GLC (+1.2%) while BMW (+20.6%) is lifted up by outstanding success by the new X3 (record 10.860), the 5 Series L (+33.5%), 1 Series (+10.1%) and X1 (+4.9%). Nissan (-6.8%) manages to contain its loss to the single-digits thanks to the Kicks (+54.5%), Tiida (+37%), Qashqai (+25.4%) and X-Trail (+0.5%), while Buick (-11.1%) and Chevrolet (-14.3%) outpace the market thanks to the progressive arrival of a litany of new launches, notably the Monza (record 21.439), but Geely (-29.9%) and Changan (-23.9%) both freefall.

Further down, Traum (+318.2%), Acura (+124.6%), Borgward (+101.3%), Cowin (+70.1%), Infiniti (+44.9%), Maxus (+43.7%), Volvo (+28.5%), Cadillac (+18.9%), JAC (+13.9%), MG (+7.5%) and Wuling (+4.6%) all manage to grow with Hongqi (record 6.463) brilliantly breaking its all-time volume record just as the HS5 launches (see our All-new models special). Jetour (#33) continues to dominate new brand launches ahead of Ora (#41), Bestune (#42), Dorcen (#55), Weltmeister (#56), Exeed (#60) and Geometry (#65). Among EV startups, both Xpeng (2.704) and Weltmeister (2.056) break their volume record but Nio (1.068) is down. The majority of the market is however hit very hard indeed: Haima (-96.4%), Bisu (-84.6%), Changhe (-83.8%), Lifan (-82.8%), Karry (-82.5%), Renault (-80.1%), JMC (-74.8%), Brilliance (-73.4%), Peugeot (-70%), Leopaard (-68.5%), Landwind (-68.1%), BAIC (-67.2%), Ford (-65.5%), Citroen (-63.3%), Jeep (-60.9%), Baojun (-59.8%), Land Rover (-56.8%), Soueast (-56%) and FAW (-55.5%) are among the brands losing more than half their sales year-on-year, a devastating perspective.

The Chevrolet Monza already totals 44.000 wholesales in 3 months.

Looking at the models ranking, the May podium is identical to YTD with the VW Lavida (-18.5%), Nissan Sylphy (-13.1%) and Wuling Hongguang (+4.6%) in the lead, the latter lifted by the new generation. The Toyota Corolla (-6.3%), Buick Excelle GT (+114.9%) and VW Bora (+53.2%) make it 5 sedans in the Top 6 while the Haval H6 (-16.6%) holds onto the #1 SUV title ahead of the VW Tiguan (-18.1%), Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai. The Chevrolet Monza is up 31 spots to brilliantly break into the Top 10 at #9 for only its third month in market, total over 44.000 wholesales over the period. The Roewe i5 (+467.3%) hits its highest ever ranking at #11. Below the Monza, the best-selling new launches are the VW Tharu (#23), Haval F7 (#36), Geely Binyue (#42), VW Tayron (#44), Chery Tiggo 8 (#52), Jetour X70 (#53), Mercedes A-Class L (#64) and Honda Envix (#70).

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

One year ago: China Wholesales May 2018: SUVs drop share for the first time in 6 years

Full May 2019 Top 93 All-brands and Top 515 All-models below.

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