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China Retail September 2019: Mercedes (+18.2%), BMW (+16.7%), Honda (+15.3%) shine, Jetta scores 6.174 sales in market down -9%

The Jetta brand achieves a strong 56% wholesales-retail conversion rate for its first month on the Chinese market.

Retail sales in China, or end-customer registrations, are still feeling the effect of pulled forward sales in June ahead of the Stage 6 emissions standards implementation on July 1. After freefalling -20.4% in July and -20.1% in August, Chinese registrations of locally-produced vehicles drop another -9% year-on-year in September to 1.668.572 according to our exclusive figures. This is almost double the wholesales drop rate (-5.2%) for the same month, which means dealerships across the country are still replenishing their stock, ordering more cars (wholesales) than they register (retail). This in turns means wholesales probably won’t return into positive any time in 2019. Year-to-date, retail sales of the vehicles included in our study are down a measured -2.5% to 15.087.998 vs. -10.3% for wholesales.

In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (+2.9%) is back in positive after two consecutive double-digit drops thanks to outstanding results by its new SUV lineup: the Tayron (record 19.615), T-Roc (+162% to a record 12.246 sales), Tharu (10.631), T-Cross (record 5.035) and Teramont X (record 1.831) but also a raft of blockbuster sedans such as the Bora (+62.9%), Passat (+36.7%), Santana (+20.6%) and Sagitar (+19.9%), just as the Jetta (-90.8%) is dying. Honda (+15.3%) posts the only double-digit gain in the Top 9 thanks to stunning scores by the Crider (+173.3%), CR-V (+48%), Accord (+25.9%), Avancier (+14.9%) and Civic (+12%). 6 of the next 8 best-selling brands are down, with Nissan (-1.5%) and Toyota (-3.5%) gaining share, Hyundai (-8.9%) and Geely (-9.5%) matching the market but Buick (-16.2%) and Haval (-17.5%) falling apart. At #7, Audi (+2.3%) reclaims the premium title for the first time since last June and progresses thanks to the Q5L (+393.6%) and new Q2L (3.680).

But it’s Mercedes (+18.2%) that clocks the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 25 thanks to the new A-Class (5.215), the E-Class (+11%) and C-Class (+10.4%). BMW (+16.7%) actually manages the only additional double-digit gain in the Top 25 thanks to strong showings by the X3 (+146.7%), 5-Series (+39.1%) and 1-Series (+43.5%) and even before the X2 scores its first retail sales. Showing that the market is far from recovered – or even recovering – 12 of the next 14 brands freefall by the double-digits, 8 of them Chinese including Dongfeng (-27.5%), Beijing (-26.4%), BYD (-23.6%), Roewe (-23.6%) and Baojun (-21.9%) but also foreigners such as Ford (-45.4%), Kia (-34.2%), Chevrolet (-20.9%), Skoda (-19.7%) and Mazda (-17.2%)… Volvo (+38.9%) is the largest gainer in the Top 30, Hongqi (+263.1%) continues its stratospheric progression, scoring its first 5-digit monthly volume in history at 11.234, with WEY (+35.6%), Infiniti (+23.5%), NIO (+13.2%) and Maxus (+12.2%) the only other Top 50 double-digit gainers.

Among new brand launches (<12 months), Jetour (6.877) is once again in the lead but there is a very notable new entry just below: coinciding with its first Wholesales month at 11.080 units, the largest first-month volume for any new brand launched in the history of automobile in China, Volkswagen’s new low-cost brand Jetta also makes its first appearance in the Retail charts with 6.174 units. This is the very first indication of the rate at which Jetta factory deliveries are finding new Chinese homes, and this rate is high at 56%, these figures traditionally hovering around the 25 to 40% mark in the first few months. 82% of these (5.094) come from the new VS5 SUV, the rest (1.080) being for the VA3 sedan which has its work cutout for it if it’s meant to replace the VW Jetta sedan (26.000 retail sales last March). As I already said for the wholesales results, Jetta retail figures look very good for now, I’ll wait to see how they evolve over the next few months to pronounce myself on whether this historical launch is a success or not. Further down, Bestune (3.782) seems to have now stabilised and needs the new T33 to climb higher, while COS (1.960), Ora (1.711) and Exeed (1.031) remain decidedly discrete.

The top of the models ranking is very stable with the VW Lavida (-2.8%) and Nissan Sylphy (-10.5%) holding onto the Top 2 spots despite declines, while the VW Sagitar (+19.9%) and Toyota Corolla (-23.6%) both jump past the VW Bora (+62.9%) compared to last month and the Honda Civic (+12%) and Buick Excelle Yinlang (+41.3%) camp on their position. The VW Tayron (#13) remains by far the most popular new launch (<12 months), distancing the Chevrolet Monza (#23), VW Tharu (#46), Changan CS35 Plus (#48), Geely Binyue (#49), BYD Song Pro (#53), Changan CS75 Plus (#63) up 208 spots on its inaugural month, the Hyundai La Festa (#69), Haval F7 (#70), Toyota Avalon (#90), Honda Envix (#93), Inspire (#95), Mercedes A-Class (#99), Jetta VS5 (#103), VW T-Cross (#104) and Lynk & Co 03 (#106). That’s 13 new launches in the September Top 110. We also welcome this month the Chevrolet Trailblazer (#321), Hanteng E+ (#461) and COS X7 (#472).

Previous month: China Retail August 2019: Mercedes (+24.6%), Volvo (+10.5%) impress in market freefalling down -20.1%

One year ago: China Retail September 2018: Market plunges -16%

Full September 2019 Top 110 All China-made brands and Top 640 All-models below.

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