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China retail January 2020: Mercedes (+9.2%) only Top 20 brand in positive in market down -34.2%

Mercedes now produces the AMG A-Class in China.

Since February 2018, BSCB has been the only non-Chinese media to analyse complete retail sales data – or registrations – for China, as an additional monthly 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.

In January, Chinese retail sales implode -34.2% year-on-year to 1.705.175 units, mainly due to the Lunar New Year holiday falling in January instead of February last year. As we already discussed in our January 2020 wholesales update, February will be where we will really see the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak. Intermediate figures are ghastly indeed: in the first week of February retail sales plunged 96% from the same period last year to 811 daily rate vs. 22.965 during the same week in 2019. Week 2 was down -89% to 4.101 vs. 36.965 and week 3 at -83% to 5.411 vs. 32.529, indicating we are headed towards -85%, -80% at best for February 2020 in China. We’ll publish monthly results as soon as we get them.

The new Avalon helps Toyota lose “only” -22.4% in January.

For now in January, Volkswagen (-35.9%) falls slightly faster than the market despite strong performances by the Tayron (14.912), CC (+33.5%), Tharu (-5.5%), Bora (-5.7%), T-Roc (-7.3%) and Sagitar (-7.6%). Honda (-28.9%) remains in 2nd place with the new Breeze hitting a record 8.202 sales, the Envix at 4.853 and the Inspire up 7.2%. Geely (-30.9%) is back up two spots on December to land on the their step of the podium with the new Icon up to 1.805 sales, the Jiaji at 2.022 and the Xingyue at 3.008. Toyota (-22.4%) remains at #4 and sports the smallest drop in the Top 7 thanks to new Avalon (9.779), C-HR (+0.9%), Levin (-17.7%), Corolla (-17.8%) and RAV4 (-20.3%). Nissan (-24.1%) rounds out the Top 5 above Haval (-31.8%) and Buick (-36.8%) and Changan (-16.9%) resists well thanks to the new CS75 Plus (17.256) and the CS35 Plus (+23.6%).

Mercedes (+9%) is the only carmaker in the Top 25 to actually gain volume vs. January 2019, supported by stunning performances by the A-Class (+131.1%) and GLC (+43.1%) as well as new launches gearing up: the GLB at 2.674 sales, the AMG A at 192 and the EQC at 66. Jetta is the most popular new launch (<12 months) at 13.500 units and remains the most successful brand launch in Chinese history with 58.064 retail sales in just 5 months. COS follows closely with a new record retail volume at 12.159, and is the only additional recent brand launch to sell over 1.300 units this month. Rare other gainers include Hongqi (+126.8%), Lark (+92.3%), Xpeng (+30.8%) and Cowin (+22.2%).

The Lynk & Co 05 makes its very first appearance in any Chinese charts.

In the models ranking, the Nissan Sylphy (-18.9%) scores a 4th month in the overall pole position, distancing its archenemy the VW Lavida (-32.6%) with the Haval H6 (-30.5%) back up 3 spots on December to #3. The Toyota Corolla (-17.8%) is up one to #4, the VW Bora (-5.7%) is down two to #5 and the Buick Excelle Yinlang (-20.8%) up two to #6. The Geely Boyue (-14.4%) is up 5 ranks on last month to #8, the Mercedes E-Class L (-0.9%) up 46 to #9 and the Haval M6 (+11%) up 7 to break into the Top 10 for the first time at #10 and the Mercedes GLC (+43.1%) up 53 to #12.

The Chevrolet Monza (#16) is the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) just above the Changan CS75 Plus (#17), with the BYD Song Pro (#30), Jetta VS5 (#53), COS X7 (#54), Toyota Avalon (#57) and Roewe RX5 Max (#67) in tow. The Ford Escape (#245), Jetta VS7 (#402) and Lynk & CO 05 (#503) make their first appearances in the Chinese retail charts. While New Energy vehicles continue to struggle at -39.7% year-on-year to 72.773 units, we have included them in this update. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid (-18%) is the most popular just under 5.000 sales ahead of the Beijing EU5, Honda Accord Hybrid (+16.1%), GAC NE Aion S and Toyota Levin Hybrid, all above 3.000 units.

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

One year ago: China retail January 2019: Haval (+72.1%), VW (+45.7%), Toyota (+44.1%) lead spectacular market turnaround (+27.5%)

Full January 2020 Top 105 All China-made brands and Top 625 All-models below.

Full January 2020 Top 167 All New Energy models below.

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