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China retail January 2023: Sales freefall -43.2%, BYD (+37.8%), Tesla (+38.8%) islands of growth

BYD Dolphin sales are up 77.7% in January.

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 with exports which can sometimes be the case for wholesales data. The selection of vehicles included in this update is down a very harsh -43.2% year-on-year in January to just 1,238,434 units which is almost 1 million sales lost compared to January 2022. The combined effect of a Covid surge, no more tax breaks and EV incentives and fewer working days due to an earlier Lunar New Year mean the market is spiralling down as it is also the case with wholesales.

Volkswagen (-40.6%) holds onto the brands top spot with a slightly smaller fall than the market, with the Tacqua (+24%) its only nameplate in positive. The Viloran (-12.3%), Lamando (-12.5%), Polo (-19.4%), Passat (-23.3%), Magotan (-32.7%) and Sagitar (-33.3%) are the next best performing models in the German carmaker’s lineup. As it has been the case for the past year, BYD (+37.8%) scores a gravity-defying year-on-year evolution in stark contrast with the market’s wobbliness. It is the only gainer in the Top 15. The Song Pro (+189.2%), Dolphin (+77.7%), Song Plus (+73.8%) are among the most solid of its models, with the Yuan Plus and Destroyer 05 celebrating one year in market. In third place we have Toyota (-43.5%) matching the market despite strong showings by the Sienna (+43.4%) and the new Corolla Cross and Front Lander.

Tesla sales climb 38.8% year-on-year this month.

Changan (-28.6%) limits its fall somewhat and accelerates to #4 above Geely (-49.7%), both manufacturers taking advantage of Honda’s implosion (-63.8%). Wuling (-39.9%) also manages to outrace the market slightly and gains one spot on December to #7. BMW (-41.8%) leads the premium charts at #8, up two ranks on last month and ahead of Mercedes (-36.3%) at #10 and Audi (-49.4%) at #12. The only additional gainer in the Top 20 is Tesla (+38.8%) advancing two spots on December to #16. LI (+22.7%) continues its success story, now with three nameplates, and hits its 2nd highest previous ranking at #22, only bested by #21 last May. Jetour (-6%) and NIO (-0.7%) are virtually stable and rank #25 and #27 respectively vs. #35 and #32 over the Full Year 2022. Denza (+1249.9%) finally breaks through after years of sluggish sales thanks to the D9 MPV, new launch Smart is up 7 ranks to #44 and AvatR is up 21 to #69.

Looking at the models ranking in isolation, the BYD Song Plus (+73.8%) notches its first ever monthly win thanks to a staggering year-on-year lift. It dislodges the Nissan Sylphy (-41.2%) while the VW Lavida (-44.4%) remains in third place, a ranking it also held over the Full Year 2022. The Haval H6 (-50.7%) is in a bad shape but stays #4 vs. #9 over FY2022. The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (-39.1%) just outpaces the market but is down to a low 5th place vs. #2 over FY2022. The BYD Dolphin (+77.7%) is back up 8 spots to #6, distancing the VW Sagitar (-33.3%) and Changan CS75 Plus (-29.5%). The Mercedes E-Class L (-28.9%) and BMW 5 Series L (-44%) round out the Top 10 and the BMW X5 (#26) is the best-selling recent launch this month, breaking the 10,000-unit milestone for the first time. 

Previous post: China retail 2022: BYD surges 123.3%, Nissan Sylphy #1, market down -2.1%

One year ago: China retail January 2022: BMW, Hongqi, Jetta break records in market down -3.9%

Full January 2023 Top 118 all brands and Top 670 all models below.

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