China’s bus sales in the first half increased less than a percent to 282,000 units, while output grew 3.84 percent to 284,900 units, according to the latest statistics from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
High-end buses and electric buses were two highlights thanks to the growing customer demand and the country’s promotion of energy saving and emissions reduction vehicles.
The country produced and sold 54,212 and 50,868 buses (including chassis) in June, up 5.23 and down 2.66 percent respectively. Sales of large buses including chassis slipped 4.53 percent to 7,527 units in June with a slowdown compared with that of March, April, and May. Sales of medium and light buses were 6,736 and 36,605 units in June, taking up 13.24 and 71.96 percent of the market share.
The top five large bus sellers – Yutong Bus, Xiamen King Long, Higer Bus, Xiamen Golden Dragon and Ankai Bus sold a total of 5,336 units in the month, accounting for nearly 71 percent of the total industrial large bus sales.
According to Table 1, all of the top five large bus sellers witnessed sales increase on a monthly basis except Yutong Bus, with three increasing and two decreasing on a yearly basis. Xiamen King Long, Higer Bus and Ankai Bus saw sales increase on both monthly and yearly basis, while Yutong Bus suffered from dual declines on monthly and yearly basis. Xiamen King Long, Higer Bus and Ankai Bus maintained growth in the first half.
High-end bus sales jump 31.9 percent to 2,066 units
According to the latest statistics, high-end buses, or buses with price higher than ¥900,000 ($145,161) posted sales of 2,066 units through to June, up 31.9 percent compared with the same period of 2014.
The booming sales of high-end buses can be mainly attributed to the increase of medium and large new energy buses.
Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu were the top three regions in terms of high-end bus sales in the first six months.
To rejuvenate the sluggish economy compressed by the slumping real estate market, local governments endeavored in promoting the tourist industry by developing local tourist resources, thus triggering sales of tourist buses to some extent, though not the major reason for the high-end bus sales boom.
Sales of electric buses and plug-in hybrid buses grew to a certain extent upon government incentives. With most buses of the above kind wearing price tags of over ¥900,000, high-end bus industry thus benefitted from the government promotion of NEVs.
Certain factors are still affecting sales of high-end buses. For example, the tight monetary policy in the first half affected the financing channels of target consumers and lowered purchasing power.
Over transport capacity still exists due to the impact of high-speed rail and motor train unit. No-load rate was around 50 percent and that of long-distance passenger transport lanes were even higher to around 60 percent. As competition in the market gets fiercer, central and local governments started to rectify passenger vehicle transport market by issuing a number of new laws and regulations, which reduced high-end bus purchase to some extent.
Experts predicted that the launching of high-speed rail largely affected corresponding high-end bus markets with 40 percent potential buyers giving up on their bus purchase plans.
Moreover, as the country requests a shorter discarding period for operation vehicles, usage cost of high-end buses have increased with lower return on investment.
Customers have more say in high-end bus purchasing which largely compressed the profit margin of bus manufacturers, which led to a new round of price war.
Moreover, domestic inflation affected export of high-end buses unavoidably. The anti-corruption campaign of the country also hindered government departments from purchasing high-end or luxurious buses.
Electric buses a highlight
New energy buses, especially electric buses, were again a highlight in an otherwise flat first half for the bus market.
The country produced 13,131 pure electric buses through to June, a fivefold increase year-on-year, which exceeded the total sales in 2014.
Subsidy policies of the central and local governments triggered NEV sales in the first half. As 2015 is the last year of the 2013-2015 EV promotion campaign, local governments enhanced EV purchase of public departments, which spurred EV output to 5,543 units in June, an increase of 452 percent.
Xie Guangyao, chief editor of cvworld.cn, believes China could produce 20,000 electric buses in the second half of the year to bring the annual tally to over 30,000 units, an increase of 150 percent compared with last year’s production of 12,700 units.
Medium and light electric buses outperformed the large electric buses due to limited funds of local governments. As the central government requests only for the number of electric buses, local governments tend to purchase smaller electric buses to fulfill the task and save as much funds as possible. For example, electric bus output in June totaled 5,543 units, with Yutong Bus producing 1,557 units. Medium and light buses shorter than 10 meters accounted for about 82 percent of those 1,557 units. Zhongtong Bus, the second best producer of electric buses in June, posted output of 945 units, with light electric buses (shorter than 7 meters) accounting for 89 percent of the volume.
Yutong Bus, Zhongtong Bus and Higer Bus took the lead in the first six months of the year in electric bus production. Yutong Bus produced 2,931 electric buses through to June, up 7,228 percent on a yearly basis with 22.3 percent of the market share. Zhongtong Bus and Higer Bus produced 1,358 and 1,103 units with market shares of 10.3 and 8.4 percent respectively.
Dongfeng Motor’s production of electric buses increased 7.8 percent thanks to the Dongfeng Yufeng electric light bus of Dongfeng Xiangyang Vehicle Co. Nanjing King Long, Xiamen Golden Dragon and Xiamen King Long produced 937, 827 and 437 units, taking up 7.1, 6.3 and 3.3 percent of the market share. Beiqi-Foton and Ankai Bus conquered northern China by producing 384 and 383 units, each accounting for 2.9 percent of the market share.