China wholesales Full Year 2020: SUVs outsell cars for the first time, Nissan Sylphy snaps first win, market down -1.9%
The Nissan Sylphy signs its first ever annual win in China.
According to data by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), new vehicle sales in China drop just -1.9% year-on-year to 25.311.000 units. This is an outstanding hold, and an improvement on the -8.2% of 2019, as China was hit first by the coronavirus pandemic with February wholesales crumbling down -79.1%. Yet the Chinese market recovered quickly and aligned no less than seven consecutive months of double-digit year-on-year gains between May (+14.5%) and November (+12.6%). Commercial Vehicles surge 18.7% to 5.133.000 units while Passenger Vehicles are down -6% to 20.178.000. In the Passenger Vehicles detail, SUVs edge up 0.7% to 9.461.000, while traditional cars are down -9.9% to 9.275.000. This is the first time SUVs outsell cars in China. MPVs sink -23.8% to 1.054.000 and minibuses are down -2.9% to 388.000.
Honda sales are up 5.1% in 2020.
In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (-15.9%) easily remains the most popular carmaker in the country but markedly underperforms, enduring the largest year-on-year drop in the Top 12. The recently launched Tacqua (+1158%), Tharu (+6.3%) and Magotan (+0.6%) are the only nameplates in the VW lineup to post a year-on-year gain, with the Bora (-1%) and Sagitar (-2.5%) holding well but the Polo (-38.8%), Passat (-31.9%), Santana (-31.3%), Touran (-29.5%), Phideon (-28.1%) and Lavida (-21.3%) all lose significant ground. Note the Volkswagen brand’s loss of about 500.000 sales compared to 2019 isn’t compensated by the company’s new low-cost brand Jetta, up 227% to 160.500 units for its first full year of sales.
Toyota gains 9.1% year-on-year in 2020.
In contrast with VW, 6 of the remaining Top 10 brands actually gain ground year-on-year, starting with Honda (+5.1%) which broke its all-time monthly volume record twice this year: in September and December. Great performers include the Honda Breeze (+1635.4%) up to 156.000 sales for its first full year in market, the CR-V (+17.2%) breaking its monthly volume record in both November and December, the Vezel (+40.8%), Elysion (+40.7%) and XR-V (+14.3%). Toyota (+9.1%) also lodges a solid gain thanks to the Avalon (+78.9%), RAV4 (+38.9%), Yaris L (+33.7%) and the new Wildlander at over 82.000 units. Nissan (-2.7%) and Geely (-7.1%) round out the Top 5 with losses. Below, Buick (+6.3%) benefits from strong improvements by the Velite 6 (+354.4%), Enclave (+310.1%), LaCrosse (+37.7%), Envision (+26.6%), Regal (+9.9%), Excelle Yinlang (+5.9%) and GL8 (+5.9%), while Changan (+12.8%) signs the largest gain in the Top 10 thanks to the Benben (+382.7%), Eado (+84.2%), CS75 (+38.1%), Raeton CC (+25.7%) and the new Uni-T (almost 69.000 sales).
Hongqi broke its monthly volume record 9 times in 2020.
All three German premium brands advance and stay in the same order: Audi is up 5.8% thanks to the A6L (+37.2%), Q2L (+28.6%) and Q3 (+18.9%), Mercedes gains 7.6% due to the GLB (+1393.1%) in its first full year of sales, the Vito (+16.8%) and GLC (+12.6%) and BMW advances 11.8% thanks to the X2 (+339.8%), 3 Series L (+43.1%) and X3 (+11.7%). Chery (+14.6%), MG (+10.1%), Wuling (+8.5%), Cadillac (+8.2%) and Ford (+4.9%) shine in the remainder of the Top 25 but the greatest performers are below. Hongqi (+97%) almost doubles its sales vs. 2019 to just under 200.000 annual units: the luxury Chinese carmaker broke its monthly volume record 9 times in 2020, lifting it from 12.600 to 25.100. For its part Lynk & Co (+37%) broke its all-time volume record during each of the last 6 months of the year. COS (+258%), NIO (+108.8%), Xpeng (+62.6%), Ora (+44.8%) and the rejuvenated SOL brand (+1210.1%) also deliver outstanding year-on-year gains and record annual tallies. The most successful locally-made brand launch of 2020 is by far Tesla with over 135.000 units, distancing Lincoln at 39.000, LI at 32.600 and Leap Motor at 10.500.
Lynk & Co lodged volume records during each of the last 6 months of the year.
Model-wise, the Nissan Sylphy (+15.2%) benefits from a new generation to topple last year’s leader the VW Lavida (-21.3%) in great difficulty. It’s an uncontested victory as the Sylphy ranked first 10 times, ending the year on an all-time volume record in December at over 62.000 wholesales whereas the Lavida only ranked #1 once. The Haval H6 (-2.5%) rounds out the podium like last year and led the market outright in November. The next four nameplates all advance one spot on 2019, taking advantage of a freefall by the Wuling Hongguang (-27.9%) going from #4 to #8. The Toyota Corolla (-2.1%), VW Bora (-1%) and Sagitar (-2.5%) all manage to keep their losses to roughly match the market level while the Buick Excelle Yinlang (+5.9%) posts an uptick. At the tail end of the Top 10, the Changan CS75 (+38.1%) is up 10 spots to #9 and the Honda CR-V (+17.2%) up 6 to #10.
The Wuling Hongguang MINI EV is the 2nd most successful launch ever.
The Tesla Model 3 is the most successful new locally-made nameplate in 2020, landing directly inside the Top 50 at #44 and over 135.000 wholesales, but the most talked-about new vehicle this year has been the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV. With 119.255 wholesales in just five months, this is the 2nd best model launch in Chinese history just below the 120.089 units of the Baojun 730 over the same period. It ends the year with over 32.000 monthly units in December. The next most popular new launches for 2020 are the Toyota Wildlander (#72), Changan UNI-T (#83), BYD Han (#133), new Hyundai Elantra (#135) and Ford Escape (#136).
December volumes are usually among the highest all year and 2020 is no exception. The market is up 6.4% year-on-year to 2.831.000, marking the first single-digit gain since April and indicating a slowdown of the vigorous recovery we’ve seen so far. Notably, Commercial Vehicles are a lot wobblier than in past months, up just 2.4% to 456.000 units while Passenger Vehicles soar 7.2% to 2.375.000. In the PV detail, SUVs surge 14.2% to 1.138.000, cars are up 2.3% to 1.047.000 but MPVs drop -3.2% to 143.000 and minibuses are down -1.8% to 47.000. After 12 last month, in December no less than 14 brands break their all-time volume record: Honda, Nissan, MG, Roewe, Jetour, Cadillac, Lynk & Co, Tesla, Volvo, Ora, NIO, Xpeng, LI and Leap Motor.
Previous month: China wholesales November 2020: 12 brands break volume records in 7th straight double-digit market lift (+12.6%)
Previous year: China wholesales 2019: Market down -8.2% to lowest since 2015, New Energy sales down -1.2%, first “winter” for weak Chinese brands
Two years ago: China wholesales 2018: VW Lavida snaps first ever win in first market decline in 28 years
Full Year 2020 Top 110 All-brands and Top 665 All-models vs. Full Year 2019 figures below.
Full December 2020 Top 105 All-brands and Top 460 All-models below.