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China retail Full Year 2021: Wuling (+52.3%), BYD (+98.7%) show explosive growth in market up 6.4%

BYD sales almost double year-on-year in 2021.

Discover 40 years worth of Chinese Historical Data here.

BSCB is the only non-Chinese medium to cover both wholesales (ex-factory shipments) and retail sales data for China so you can get the most complete picture of the largest new car market in the world. Retail sales tend to give a more authentic picture of the market as they roughly correspond to registrations by end-customers and are more difficult to artificially boost by manufacturers with exports which can sometimes be the case for wholesales data. The selection of vehicles included in this update is down -14.2% year-on-year in December to 2,192,251 and up 6.4% over the Full Year 2021 to 20,265,206. Note pickups and medium to heavy commercial vehicles are not included in this dataset, but it includes a more detailed split by model variant (Jetour X70, X70 Coupe, X70 Plus, X70M and X70S for example).

In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (-8.3%) endures the steepest fall in the Top 10 alongside Nissan (-8.3% as well). The German manufacturer fell faster than the market throughout the year and could be suffering from the average quality of its offering. The words “resting on its laurels” come to mind. This could also be the natural fragmentation of a market that is always maturing, with brand leaders holding less and less share. Poor performances by the Tayron (-34.1%), Touran (-32.9%), T-Roc (-32.2%), Golf (-30.7%), Bora (-20.3%), Sagitar (-20.4%) and Teramont X (-20.1%) couldn’t be offset by the Tiguan X (+952.5%), Viloran (+48.1%), Tayron X (+38.6%), Passat (+13.4%), Tacqua (+10.2%), Teramont (+9.7%), Phideon (+6%) and Polo (+5.7%) as well as the launches of the ID.3, ID.4 Crozz, ID.4 X, ID.6 Crozz, ID.6 X and Talagon. Toyota (+2.3%) on the other hand manages an uptick and overtakes Honda (-1.6%) to rank #2. The Wildlander (+77.6%), RAV4 (+14.9%), Camry (+11.4%) and Highlander (+7.2%) help the brand up. For its part Honda is penalised by the Crider (-65.6%), Avancier (-32.3%) and Civic (-28.8%) and can’t stay in positive despite strong showings by the Life (+3749.7%), Breeze (+31.2%), Elysion (+24.8%), UR-V (+18.9%), Odyssey (+16.6%), XR-V (+15%), Vezel (+13.4%) and Inspire (+12%).

Geely (+3.9%) remains the best-selling Chinese carmaker at home and becomes the largest gainer in the Top 5. Nissan (-8.3%) drops one spot to #5 and is the last manufacturer to clock up more than 1 million sales in 2021. Changan (+13.7%) surges ahead and gains one spot to #6 but it’s Wuling (+52.3%) that scores the largest gain near the top of the charts. Below Buick (-6.1%) and Haval (+2.4%), BYD (+98.7%) almost doubles its retail sales year-on-year to return inside the Top 10 at #10. In the luxury race, BMW (+9%) topples Audi (-10%) and Mercedes (-8.1%) to advance to #11. Tesla jumps 124.7% to #19 but was the #1 luxury brand in December with just two models: the Model 3 and Model Y. COS (+102.3%), MG (+55%), Chery (+43.9%), Hongqi (+42.4%), Dongfeng (+30.9%), GAC (+28.4%) and Lynk & Co (+25.8%) all fit within the Top 30 and show the dynamism of Chinese manufacturers in 2021. Jetta (+17.3%) also advances but remains below 175,000 annual units, that’s less than the 216,000 units Volkswagen has lost this year. Baojun (-47.9%) implodes from #14 to #26. 

Outside the Top 30, a handful of EV start-ups and small carmakers have kept breaking their monthly volume records up until the end of the year: Ora (+147.1%) peaked at 22,729 sales in December, Xpeng (+248.3%) hit a record 16,357 units in December, LI (+173%) was at a record 14,112 sales in December, NIO (+109.2%) hit a record 10,481 units in December, Neta (+474.7%) was at a best-ever 11,415 sales in December, Leap Motor (+626%) broke its monthly record to 8,453 in December and Weltmeister (+100.6%) was at a best-ever 4,316 sales in December. Geometry (+127.7%), Levdeo (+1949.5%), Lingbox (+1609.8%) and Seres (+934%) also show surreal growth below. TANK, now a standalone brand separate from WEY, is the best-selling 2021 brand launch at #44, it distances R (#61), Voyah (#74), Zeekr (#76), HiPhi (#83) and Pocco (#85).

Looking at the models ranking in isolation, there is only one change in the Top 5 vs. the wholesales ranking. The Nissan Sylphy (-7%) repeats at #1 ahead of the VW Lavida (-4.1%) and the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (+252.7%) ranks #3 instead of #2 above the Lavida in the wholesales charts. The Haval H6 (+3.7%) and Toyota Corolla (-14.2%) round out the Top 5 as they do in wholesales. All remaining Top 10 models are down year-on-year, signalling a further fragmentation of the market model-wise. The Honda CR-V (-7.8%) and Toyota Levin (-8.7%) resist the best whereas the VW Sagitar (-20.4%) and Bora (-20.3%) are hit the hardest. Notice the Geely Emgrand (+31.5%) pushed up 21 spots by the new generation to #17, and the Honda Breeze (+31.2%), Nissan Teana (+37.1%) and Changan CS55 Plus (+29.9%) also very solid. More than 100 new models have appeared in the retail charts this year. The Tesla Model Y sold just 2 units in 2020 and over 160,000 in 2021, virtually making the best-selling 2021 launch. The “pure” best of 2021 is the BYD Qin Plus (#45) ahead of the Changan Benben E-Star (#84), Geely Xingyue L (#133) and GAC Trumpchi Empow (#157).

Previous month: China retail November 2021: Hongguang MINI EV repeats at #1, BYD, Ora, Xpeng, LI break records, sales off -12.6%

Previous year: China retail 2020: Changan (+26.8%), Toyota (+7.6%) headline market down -7.5%

Two years ago: China retail 2019: Honda (+16.6%), BMW (+21.6%) stand out in market holding better than wholesales (-4%)

Full December 2021 Top 124 All-brands and Top 677 All-models below.

Full Year 2021 Top 147 All-brands and Top 1030 All-models vs. Full Year 2020 figures below.

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