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China wholesales December 2019: VW (+19.4%), Geely (+36.1%), Changan (+63.6%) help stabilise market (-0.1%), Jetta down -43.3%

The Changan CS75 breaks its volume record for the 2nd month in a row.

The last month of the year is traditionally busier in China as manufacturers rush to register cars to meet annual emissions targets. This year is no exception, and even though they marks a 18th consecutive month of year-on-year decline, December wholesales are virtually stable at -0.1% to 2.658.000 units. This is partly due to the continued strength of the Commercial Vehicles segment up 3.9% to 445.000 but Passenger Cars only drop -0.9% to 2.213.000, making it the thinest decide since the Chinese market started skidding a year and a half ago. A damper to this performance is the fact that December 2019 was down a ghastly -13% on the year prior, so we are currently stuck at these levels. Looking at the detail of Passenger Cars segment, two are in positive: SUVs up 1.2% to 991.000 and minivans up 1.7% to 48.000. Sedans and hatchbacks edge down -0.4% to 1.026.000 but MPVs freefall -16.1% to 148.000. New Energy Vehicle sales continue to suffer from the pullback of government subsidies last July with total sales down -27.1% to 164.000 including 140.000 EVs (-27.5%) and 23.000 PHEVs (-28.1%), the rest being FCEVs. It’s a prolonged slide for Chinese carmakers, down another -5.6% to 925.100 and 41.8% share in December vs. 43.9% a year ago. In contrast, German brands soar 17% to 516.300 and 23.3% share vs. 19.8% and the Japanese edge down -0.3% to 413.700 and 18.7% share.

Almost 70.000 Lavidas left VW factories in December, a new record.

Brand leader Volkswagen (+19.4%) scores a splendid 2nd straight double-digit gain and 4th consecutive gain, remaining just under 320.000 wholesales for the 2nd month in a row. Where the German carmaker really impresses this month is with both sedans and SUVs lineups surging: the Lavida (+70.5%) breaks a 6 year-old all-time monthly volume record at 69.010, the largest volume ever delivered by a sedan in Chinese history, the CC (+245.7%), Passat (+74.1%), Bora (+47.4%), Santana (+41.9%) and Sagitar (+41.6%) also in outstanding shape. Among SUVs, the Tharu (+84.1%) breaks its volume record at 18.740 as does the T-Cross at 10.732 for its very first five-digit wholesales month, just as the Tayron (+126.5%) and T-Roc (+13.6%) also shine. Honda (-10.9%) endures a third straight negative month with all its models in negative bar the Vezel (+41.8%), Odyssey (+40%) and Inspire (+12.2%) as well as the new Breeze up 319% on its inaugural month to 7.273. At #3, Toyota (+27.1%) gallops ahead, helped by the Yaris L Sedan (+114.7%), Camry (+66.9%), C-HR (+58.7%), RAV4 (+45.9%), Levin (+31.7%) and Corolla (+17.1%).

The new gen RAV4 has finally landed in China, and Toyota sales are up 27.1%.

Below Nissan (-7.1%) struggling despite the Lannia (+98.3%), Teana (+18.8%) and Tiida (+11.1%), local #1 Geely (+36.1%) enjoys its first double-digit gain since August 2018, propelled by the Vision X6 (+272.1%), Vision X3 (+229.9%), Vision (+65.8%), facelifted Boyue (+43.1%) and Emgrand (+30.2%). Hyundai (+23.4%) also returns to good form, securing its first six-digit wholesales figure in two years after falling to just 32.000 last January. The Celesta (+76.3%) up to a new record 19.570 units, La Festa (+48.7%) also breaking its record at 13.707, Santa Fe (+7235.3%), Tucson (+121.6%), Verna (+114.5%), Rena (+21.5%) and Mistra (+17.1%) are all helping. At #7, Baojun (-5%) poses a very interesting case: the mass market wannabe low-cost brand manages to contain its evolution to single-digits for only the 2nd time in the past 22 months as the “new Baojun” models, more premium, account for 29% of the brand’s December total, the highest so far after 28% in both September and October and 25% in November. This is due to the gearing up of the RS-3 crossover singing its very first five-digit month at 11.150.

Ford celebrates its first year-on-year gain in 30 months (since June 2017).

Changan (+63.6%) is on a roll thanks to a slew of refreshed models, scoring a 2nd consecutive double-digit gain and only third since April 2018 thanks to the new CS75 (+275.9%) smashing its all-time volume record for the 2nd month in a row at 28.620 (#2 SUV), Raeton CC (+146.4%), CS95 (+125.5%), Eado DT (+130%), Eado (+98.6%), new CS15 (+85.3%), CS55 (+28%) and CS35 (+17.2%). Buick (-13.7%) and Haval (-27.1%) close the Top 10 in paltry fashion. Below, BMW (+20.9%), Ford (+16.6%) bouncing back after an excruciating 29 consecutive months of losses, Skoda (+15.9%), Audi (+14.5%) and Mazda (+12.4%) shine in the Top 25. Jetour (+49.2%) soars to a 5th consecutive all-time volume record at 20.357 thanks to the addition of the new X95, Dorcen (+150%) does the same at 7.659, Volvo (+36.3%) breaks its all-time record for the 5th time in the past 8 months at 15.291 and COS (+690%) explodes its all-time best from 3.021 in August to 12.734 this month.

Renault is the #1 French carmaker for the first time thanks to the City K-ZE.

They may not have broken their all-time record this month, but Maxus (+174.2%), Hongqi (+158.4%), Cowin (+123%), Renault (+113.3%) #1 French carmaker for the first time above Peugeot (-59%) and Citroen (-63.3%), Lynk & Co (+86.8%), Infiniti (+83.6%), Borgward (+71.1%), Land Rover (+18.9%) and Venucia (+11.2%) impress nonetheless in the remainder of the Top 50. Already crowned most successful brand launch in Chinese history with 39.864 wholesales in 3 months, Volkswagen’s new low-cost brand Jetta spectacularly hits the brakes in December with wholesales down -43.3% on last month to “just” 9.225 units. The VA3 sedan (-18.9%) resists better to hold 28% of the brand’s December volume vs. 20% in November and 29% in October, while the VS5 crossover (-49.3%) worryingly drops to its lowest month ever at 6.639. Jetta has now shipped 49.089 units to dealerships in 4 months, still by far the best score of any new brand at this stage of launch, the next-best thing being Jetour at 40.009 but a superior 13.646 in its 4th month…

Send-of-year vibes: Beijing rushes almost 22.000 EU-Series wholesales.

Model-wise, the VW Lavida (+70.5%) easily dominates the charts, reclaiming the top spot off the Nissan Sylphy (-4.7%) over 15.000 units below. The Wuling Hongguang (-10.6%) although down year-on-year, takes advantage of the launch of a more sophisticated variant (Plus) to leap back up 3 spots to #3, its first podium finish since May, and snap the #4 annual spot away from the Toyota Corolla (+17.1%) down to #5 this month behind the Haval H6 (-17.1%). Like in November, Volkswagen has 5 nameplates in the Top 10: the Sagitar (#6), Bora (#7), Passat (#8) and Santana (#10), meaning it also secures 5 of the Top 7 best-selling sedans for the month. Record-breakers in December not aforementioned include the Beijing EU-Series (21.963), BYD Song Pro (20.835), Haval M6 (19.013), Jetour X70 (15.553), Chery Tiggo 8 (14.050), COS X7 (11.086), GAC Aion S (8.460), Dorcen G60 (7.659), JAC Jiayue A5 (6.006), Hongqi HS5 (5.601), Beijing X3 (5.036), Geely Xingyue (3.845) and VGV U70 (2.119). In the French battle, the new Renault City K-ZE (1.205) advances to #2 overall, only outsold by the Citroen C5 Aircross (1.405).

Previous month: China wholesales November 2019: Volkswagen (+12.7%) places 5 models in Top 10, Jetta hits 40.000 sales in 3 months in 17th straight market decline (-3.6%)

One year ago: China wholesales December 2018: Nissan (+6%), MG (+139%) break records, Toyota, Haval, BYD gallop ahead in 6th consecutive market drop (-13%)

Full December 2019 Top 93 All China-made brands and Top 470 All-models below.

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