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China wholesales May 2021: First market decline in over a year (-3.1%)

New brand TANK sells over 6.000 units of its 300 SUV in May.

New vehicle wholesales in China are down -3.1% year-on-year in May to 2.128.000 units according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). This puts an end to 13 consecutive months of year-on-year gains in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. The year-ago comparison was particularly high as it was boosted up 14.5% by pent-up demand accumulated during the lockdown, and the tight microchip supply has dented production and sales this month. Wholesales remain up 11.1% on May 2019. Passenger Vehicles are down -1.7% to 1.646.000 units while Commercial Vehicles drop -7.4% to 482.000. In the Passenger Vehicle detail, cars are the only segment up at +2.8% to 778.000 while SUV unusually report the steepest drop at -9% to 748.000, MPVs edge down -4% to 82.000 and Minibuses drop -6.2% to 38.000. Year-to-date, the Chinese wholesales market is now up 36.6% to 10.875.000 units including 8.437.000 Passenger Vehicles (+38.1%) and 2.428.000 Commercial Vehicles (+31.9%). In the Passenger Vehicle detail, cars are up 37.2% to 3.919.000, SUVs up 39.5% to 3.985.000, MPVs up 39.7% to 388.000 and minibuses up 20.9% to 145.000.

Sales of New Energy Passenger Vehicles shoot up 168.6% for the month to 204.000 including 166.000 BEVs (+180%) and 38.000 PHEVs (+128.3%). So far in 2021, NEVs are up 240.5% to 898.000 including 743.000 BEVs (+274.4%) and 155.000 PHEVs (+137.6%). One segment that defies the market drop this month is Chinese brands of Passenger Vehicles, up 18.6% to 679.000 and 41.3% share vs. just 34.2% a year ago. This is a very significant development that indicates foreign carmakers present in China are struggling to keep up with the ever changing tastes of the Chinese consumer. The fast rhythm of new launches by Chinese brands at home and theirs constantly improved quality definitely contribute to this performance. Finally exports more than triple year-on-year to 151.000 this month, including 18.000 New Energy Vehicles, up 1630% year-on-year. CAAM anticipates a 6% annual gain for 2021 at 27 million units with NEV sales up to 2 million for the year.

In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (-8.6%) underperforms again but sees its gap with the #2-ranked brand increase from less than 16.000 in April to over 66.000 this month. Strong performances by the Passat (+65.4%), Bora (+45.2%), Tacqua (+44.9%) and Polo (+22.9%) can’t compensate for the freefall of many nameplates including the T-Roc (-66.3%), CC (-64.8%), Viloran (-52.9%), Teramont (-40.6%), T-Cross (-37.2%), Tayron (-36.6%), Phideon (-36.1%), Golf (-25.8%), Santana (-16.7%) and Tiguan (-12.2%). Toyota (-1.6%) is almost stable and reclaims the 2nd place it holds year-to-date. The Japanese carmaker is helped by the new Allion (6.164), IZOA (+48.1%), Wildlander (+37%), Levin (+20%) and C-HR (+17.6%). Honda is off -14.2% despite the Envix (+278.2%), Fit (+71.6%), Accord (+26.9%), Odyssey (+23.9%), Vezel (+12.9%), Breeze (+10.5%), Elysion (+10%) and Inspire (+6%) all lodging solid scores, but is handicapped by dismal showings from the Civic (-84.9%), CR-V (-44.5%) and Crider (-38.6%). Nissan (-19.2%) is also in trouble despite the Tiida (+90.9%) and Terra (+30.2%) performing well but is up one spot on April and two on its YTD ranking at #4.

Changan (+19.9%) posts the largest gain in the Top 10 and remains the best-selling Chinese carmaker at home but drops to #5. The brand’s star models are the Benben (+355.4%), CS15 (+126.3%), CS95 (+65%), CS85 Coupe (+53.2%), CS55 (+21.9%), UNI-T (+70.4%) and new UNI-K (5.093). Geely (-19.9%) lurks 3.000 sales behind but evolves at the exact opposite end as Changan due to steep falls by the Icon (-66.3%), Vision X6 (-50.5%), Vision X3 (-36.4%), Emgrand (-36.1%) and Binrui (-31.3%). BMW (+10.6%) tops German premium brands this month as it outsells Audi (-11.8%) and Mercedes (-8.8%) both in difficulty. BMW snaps the 10th spot year-to-date off Mercedes in the process. Haval (+3.7%) is back inside the Top 10 at #9. Wuling (+129.6%) continues to be boosted by the Hongguang MINI EV, with Chery (+73.3%), BYD (+45.3%) and GAC (+29.3%) also delivering formidable upticks below. Tesla (+201.6%) secures its 2nd best month ever at just under 33.500 wholesales. COS (+141.1%), Jetour (+97.3%), NIO (+95.3%), Hongqi (+73%), Dongfeng (+50.4%), Lynk & Co (+39.5%) and MG (+29.2%) also shine further down. TANK (6.090) and Neta (4.508) have their best ever month.

Over in the models aisle, the Nissan Sylphy (-7.6%) signs an 11th win in the past 14 months and cements its year-to-date leadership with just under 209.000 units sold so far this year. The VW Lavida (-3.7%) repeats at #2 but ranks #3 YTD while the VW Bora (+45.2%) is up 12 spots on April to land on the third step of the podium. The Toyota Corolla (-7.2%) is up three to #4 and the Wuling Hongguang MINI EV drops two ranks on last month to #5 overall. Still #2 year-to-date, the Haval H6 (+14.8%) is down two spots on April to #6 but significantly up year-on-year. Down to a freak #55 last month, the VW Sagitar (-4.8%) surges back up to #7 which is in line with its YTD ranking at #8. The Toyota Levin (+20%), Changan CS75 (+13.5%) and Tesla Model 3 (+86.9%) round out the Top 10 in splendid fashion, the Model 3 posting its first Top 10 finish in “normal conditions” at #10, having ranked #4 in February 2020 in the midst of a national lockdown. Below the Hongguang MINI EV, the best-selling recent launches (<12 months) are the Tesla Model Y (#29 with a record 12.728 units), the new Hyundai Elantra (#40) and the Geely Xingrui (#43). The BYD Qin PLUS (8.805) and Xpeng P7 (3.797) both break their volume record.

Previous month: China wholesales April 2021: Honda teases Volkswagen, Changan surges in market up 8.6%

One year ago: China wholesales May 2020: Sales spectacularly bounce back 14.5% to largest YoY gain in over 3 years

Full May 2021 Top 97 All-brands and Top 445 All-models below.

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