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China retail April 2020: Changan (+60.7%), Audi (+51.1%) lead V-shaped recovery (-5.6%)

Changan sales are up 60.7% in a market down -5.6%.

According to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), retail sales of passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs and MPVs) thin their fall to just -5.6% year-on-year in April to 1.43 million units. This is by far the best result in 2020 after drops of -21.5% in January, -78.5% in February and -40.4% in March, but slightly lower than the April wholesales performance of the same segment (-2.3%). Keep in mind April wholesales are only up 4.4% thanks to Commercial Vehicles. Both Chinese retail sales and wholesales have so far achieved a V-shaped recovery post-coronavirus, China potentially being one of only a few global market to do so. Indeed the 1.43 million retail sales in April are almost six times the 252.000 units from February. After four months, retail sales are down -32.7% to 4.45 million units. Average daily sales for the April 1-25 period are down just -1.6% year-on-year to 35.380, but the weekly results show a seesaw performance: April 1-6 is down -35% year-on-year to 21.976 daily sales, April 7-12 is up 14.7% to 33.522, April 13-19 down -0.5% to 36.964 and April 20-25 up 12.3% to 48.794. As you can see daily averages are steadily up throughout the month which is an encouraging sign.

Exeed LX (#324)

Why is there two monthly updates for China? For the past two years, BSCB has been the only global outlet to analyse complete retail sales data – or registrations, 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 usually 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. Given the sources are different, the selection of models varies slightly, with our retail updates including most light commercial minivans. Last month a large swath of previously unreleased data was updated, with over 30 additional models now accounted for (total 680 for the month and 750 YTD) and 13 new brands. Because minivans (a freefalling segment) are included, our selection of the market takes a deeper -8% year-on-year hit in April to 1.362.317 units, leading to a year-to-date tally down -32.8% to 4.340.012.

Weltmeister EX6 (#400)

Volkswagen (-18.5%) struggles with a 4th consecutive double-digit drop due to poor performances by the Touran (-65.3%), Polo (-55.8%), Santana (-39.8%), Tiguan (-35.3%), Passat (-34.3%), Phideon (-32.8%), Lamando (-32.4%), Teramont (-31.1%), Lavida (-24.3%), Magotan (-17.1%) and despite surges by the T-Cross (+296.1%), Tayron (+109.1%), Bora (+28.2%), Tharu (+20.3%), T-Roc (+13.5%). In contrast Toyota (+5.1%) is the only gainer in the Top 5 thanks to a rejuvenated lineup including the Avalon (+230.7%), Yaris L (+101.5%), Levin (+16.7%), Corolla (+8%), RAV4 (+7.1%) and the new Wildlander (1.722). Honda (-17.8%) sinks despite the new Breeze (11.881), Envix (+31.4%) and XR-V (+10.2%) while Nissan (-8.6%) roughly matches the market, saved by the Teana (+73.7%) and Qashqai (+3.1%). Geely (-7.6%) falls two spots to #5 with the Vision X6 (+35.2%), Jiaji (+29.8%), Boyue (+24.6%) and new Icon (2.702) showing strength.

Seres 5 (#460)

The remainder of the Top 10 is entirely in positive, with Buick (+3%) up for the first time since last June thanks to the Regal (+41.3%), Excelle Yinlang (+33.2%), Envision (+13.3%) and new Enclave (1.305) and Encore GX (1.030). The three premium Germans are in sync with generous gains: Audi (+51.1%) is by far the most dynamic thanks to the A6L (+606.6%), Q2L (+71.5%), Q5L (+57.2%) and A3 (+61.6%), followed by BMW (+11.3%) helped by the X3 (+15.5%), 1 Series (+14.6%) and 5 Series L (+8%) and Mercedes (+4.9%) boosted by the GLC (+9%), E Class L (+6.9%) and new GLB (3.917). But it’s Changan (+60.7%) that scores the largest gain in the Top 10 – and Top 25 – thanks to outstanding performances by the new CS75 Plus (11.553), CS55 Plus (6.175), Eado (+1341%) and CS35 Plus (+28.9%). Strikingly, there are no other gainers in the Top 20, with COS (+554.4%), NIO (+178.4%), Hongqi (+171.8%), Volvo (+40.4%), Bestune (+36%), Cadillac (+8.2%) and Jetour (+2.6%) the only additional Top 50 carmakers in positive.

Hunkt Canticie (#479)

In April, Jetta (#26) reclaims the title of most popular recent brand launch off Tesla (#40), returns to five-digit monthly volumes for the first time post-virus and adds up to 82.792 retail sales in just 8 months in market, a new record. Thanks to a swiping retail data update, there are now 20 recent brand launches recorded in the retail charts (ie younger than 12 months) and two relaunches, with VGV (#62), Everus (#70) and Zedriv (#79) in tow, and no less than 13 brands that are yet to appear in the wholesales charts (including 11 Chinese you will only find in our Exclusive Chinese Brands Guide: Leap Motor (#82), Seres (#90), Always (#92), Sokon (#93), Hunkt (#95), Maple (#104), SRM (#105), Lingbox (#107), Saleen (#108), Skywell (#109), Yinlong (#111), Doda (#114) and, last but not least: Polestar (#115).

Maple 30X (#541)

Model-wise, the Nissan Sylphy (-5.1%) is now taking root in pole position, celebrating seven consecutive months at #1. The Toyota Corolla (+8%) overtakes the VW Lavida (-24.3%) with the VW Bora (+28.2%), Sagitar (+0.1%) and Toyota Levin (+16.7%) in tow. The Haval H6 (+1.4%) remains the most popular SUV in the country above the Honda CR-V (-1.3%) up a whopping 53 spots on March to #10 while the Wuling Hongguang (-13.6%) is knocked out of the Top 10 at #11. The Honda Breeze (#26) becomes the most successful recent launch (<12 months), achieving a five-digit monthly volume for the first time and toppling the Changan CS75 Plus (#30). The BYD Song Pro (#56), Changan CS55 Plus (#67), Jetta VS5 (#69), Hongqi HS5 (#70), COS X7 (#72), Roewe RX5 MAX (#94) and Jetta VA3 (#99) follow and all fit within the Top 100.

Lingbox Leo (#562)

Among the raft of new models now included in the retail sales charts and racking up previously unreleased volumes going back to last November, the most popular are by far the LI One (#134) and Dongfeng Fengshen Hyun (#162) which have been in the wholesales ranking for months, but the most intriguing/striking may well be the Exeed LX (#324), Weltmeister EX6 (#400), Leap Motor S01 (#406), Seres 5 (#460), Sokon S513 (#469), Hunkt Canticie (#479) a blatant Range Rover Sport copycat based on the Zotye T900, the Maple 30X (#541) a revival by Geely of the Shanghai Maple low-cost brand with a Kandi EX3 redesign itself an EV variant of the Geely Vision X and the Lingbox Leo (#562), an EV clone of the Daihatsu Cast. Some of these are illustrated in this article.

Previous month: China retail March 2020: Audi (+0.5%) sold gainer in Top 25 in market down -34.9%

One year ago: China retail April 2019: Honda (+39.7%) continues to stun, Top 8 is 100% sedans in market down -8%

Full April 2020 Top 120 All China-made brands and Top 680 All-models below.

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