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China retail Full Year 2019: Honda (+16.6%), BMW (+21.6%) stand out in market holding better than wholesales (-4%)

Honda registered 45.655 new Envix in 2019.

Discover 30 years worth of Chinese Historical Data here.

Since February 2018, we at BSCB have been the only non-Chinese media to analyse retail sales data for China, or registrations, as an additional update to our years-long coverage of wholesales data, or factory shipments. The latter can be inflated by manufacturers, especially at launch, and sometimes includes exports – and because it gives off a more “generous” picture of the market, it remains the government’s official indicator. In contrast, retail sales data is the true barometer of the market and gives a better idea of the reality on the ground: what cars are actually purchased by Chinese customers. Reassuringly, retail data is very similar to wholesales figures bar a few brands. Retail sales also enable to see the full picture including imports, and even though we cover imports in separate updates, for this Full Year 2019 report we have added a separate brands and models ranking including imports, so you have the full picture of the Chinese market. Full Year 2019 retail sales of the vehicles included in our study are down -4% to 20.804.787 vs. -8.2% for wholesales, however they were up 4.6% halfway through the year. H2 retail sales are actually down -11.6% to just 10.174.173 units which is a bad omen for 2020 sales overall, whether it be retail or wholesales. Note that when adding imports, the total retail market figure climbs to 21.951.644 (-3.8%).

BMW retail sales shoot up 21.6% and overtake Audi when including imports.

The striking element in the 2019 retail brands ranking is the Top 4 entirely in positive. Volkswagen (+4.6%) advances to 3.09m units thanks to the new Tayron (+1572.9%), Tharu (+879.2%), T-Roc (+268.9%), T-Cross (38.557), CC (+53.5%), Passat (+41.8%), Bora (+20.2%), Lavida (+7.1%) and Sagitar (+7.1%). Honda (+16.6%) secures the largest gain in the Top 12, propelled by the new Inspire (+1644.8%), Envix (45.655), CR-V (+73.7%), Crider (+48.6%), Accord (+23.3%), Civic (+15.5%) and Odyssey (+10.8%). Toyota (+6.2%) is also very solid, helped by the new Avalon (49.139), C-HR (+285.5%), IZOA (+209.1%), Yaris L (+21.6%), Yaris L Sedan (+14.9%), Camry (+13.4%) and Levin (+5.9%). Finally Nissan (+4.4%) also gallops ahead due to stellar performances by the Tiida (+30.6%), Terra (+26%), Lannia (+11.4%), Qashqai (+10.5%), Kicks (+7.6%) and X-Trail (+6.9%). Geely (-4.5%) closes out the Top 5 and remains by far the #1 Chinese carmaker but the new Binyue (+669.2%), Binrui (+228%), Jiaji (23.081) and Xingyue (15.697) can’t offset its struggling best-sellers Emgrand GL (-36.6%), Vision (-23.7%), Boyue (-21.1%), Vision X6 (-19.7%) and Emgrand GS (-17.2%).

The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the best-selling New Energy vehicle in 2019.

Haval (+7.8%) thanks to the new F7 (+817.8%), F5 (+146.4%), F7x (15.074) and M6 (+121.7%), Changan (+4%) thanks to the new CS35 Plus (+1367.6%), CS75 Plus (53.226) and Eado (+54.7%) and Audi (+5.6%) also manage sturdy gains in the remainder of the Top 10. Just outside, Mercedes (+17.7%) and BMW (+21.6%) stand out. The most drastic brands ranking change when imports are included is the premium carmaker order. From Audi-Mercedes-BMW it changes to Mercedes (+6.8%) retaining the overall premium retail lead with 731.000 units, BMW (+16.9%) shooting up to 726.000 registrations which is enough to overtake Audi (+4.7%) at 690.000. The fact that Audi relies a lot more on its local production for China sales translates into a paltry third place in the overall ranking when imports are included to the brands totals. Pure importer Lexus (+22.7%) points its bonnet at a fantastic 26th place overall with 202.000 units, just below Cadillac and better than Beijing, MG, Chana or Mitsubishi. Porsche for its part ranks inside the overall Top 40 just below Jeep but above Land Rover. Some very interesting learnings there when inserting import-only brands into the charts.

New low-cost brand Jetta has managed a successful retail launch in 2019.

Further down Jetour (+390.5%) crossed the 100.000 total retail sales milestone in December, only 15 months after the brand’s launch in October 2018. Hongqi (+258.3%) is the other success story of 2019, breaking its monthly volume record 7 times including 6 in the last 8 months of the year, lifting it from 4.831 (December 2018) to 15.229 (December 2019). Volkswagen’s new low-cost brand Jetta is the biggest launch of the year and in history, accumulating 44.564 retail sales in just 4 months including a record 14.820 in December. The previous record holder was Jetour with 31.116 units between October 2018 and January 2019. Other 2019 newcomers include Ora (35.883), COS (25.592) and Exeed (8.705) while FAW replacement Bestune (45.211) ends its first full year inside the Top 50 and Xpeng (14.100) and Weltmeister (13.754) are within the Top 70. NIO (+78.4%), Acura (+60.9%), Lynk & Co (+31.1%), Volvo (+28.4%), Maxus (+24.8%), Infiniti (+22.6%), Chery (+14.7%), Cadillac (+5.1%) and Mitsubishi (+1.5%) also shine.

Hongqi broke its monthly volume record 7 times in 2019.

Model-wise, the podium remains unchanged on 2018 with the VW Lavida and Nissan Sylphy both up 7.1% to just under half a million sales each, only separated by 6.500 units and followed by the Toyota Corolla (-10.2%). This year the Top 5 is 100% sedans with the VW Sagitar (+7.1%) and Bora (+20.2%) climbing up and knocking the Haval H6 (-14.7%) and Wuling Hongguang (-12.9%) down. Keep in mind the available retail data is a lot more detailed than the wholesales figures and separate Haval H6 and H6 Coupe as well as the Wuling Hongguang, Hongguang S3 and Hongguang Plus which explains weaker retail volumes for these two nameplates. The rest of the Top 10 is entirely in negative with the VW Santana (-3.9%), Buick Excelle Yinlang (-3.3%) and VW Tiguan (-9.6%). Just like in the wholesales charts, the most popular 2019 launch is the Chevrolet Monza (#62). It is followed by the Mercedes A-Class (#96), BYD Song Pro (#105), Changan CS75 Plus (#111), Toyota Avalon (#123), Honda Envix (#140), Ford Territory (#148), VW T-Cross (#156) and Jetta VS5 (#167). When including imports, only the Lexus ES (#68) manages to crack the Top 100, with the Lexus RX at #153 and the BMW X5 at #158.

The Geely Icon makes its first appearance in the Chinese chats in December.

Over in the New Energy models ranking, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (-17.2%) takes the lead despite a ghastly drop, distancing the Beijing EU-Series (+125.5%), BYD e5 (+70.4%), Toyota Levin Hybrid (+6.4%) and Honda Accord Hybrid (+142.4%). The only two additional Chinese nameplates in the Top 10 are the BYD Yuan EV (+25%) at #6 and Chery eQ1 (+2295.7%) while the Tesla Model 3 lands at #10 with just under 30.000 sales. Main events in December that weren’t observed in the wholesales update include Lincoln selling its first locally-made units (90 Corsair), as well as three nameplates making their very first appearance in any Chinese chart: the Geely Icon at #346 with 497 sales, the Skoda Kamiq GT at #354 with 468 units and the Mercedes AMG A-Class landing at #415 with 221 registrations.

Previous month: China retail November 2019: Hongqi (+330.2%), Jetour (+76.2%), Changan (+30.5%) strong, market down -5.7%

Previous year: China retail 2018: Toyota stands out, VW Lavida, Nissan Sylphy and Toyota Corolla best-sellers

Full Year 2019 Top 113 All China-made brands and Top 880 All China-made models vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full Year 2019 Top 135 All brands incl. imports and Top 500 models incl. imports vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full Year 2019 Top 245 All New Energy models incl. imports vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full December 2019 Top 103 All China-made brands, Top 665 All-models and Top 185 New Energy models below.

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