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China’s luxury vehicle market to see huge shuffle in 2017 as competition gets white hot

According to data from CBU Analytics, China registered 2.18 million premium brand passenger vehicles in 2016, up 15.61 percent, accounting for 9.06 percent of total passenger vehicle registration volume in the year. Nearly two-thirds of the premium brand vehicles registered were locally produced. In December, premium brand passenger vehicle registration reached 246,265 units, up 7.32 percent.

In 2016, Audi registration volume reached 597,869 units, up 3.52 percent. Although its 1.4T Audi A3 and Audi Q3 variants showed strong growth thanks to the 1.6L and below passenger vehicle tax break, the new generation of the Audi A4L performed poorly since market launch. Despite winning the premium segment again, Audi experienced slow growth after years of increase powered by localization of its products.

BMW sales increased 8.08 percent to 482,337 units. Although sales of the BMW 5 Series Long Wheelbase decreased 0.81 percent slightly, it remained the champion of the top 10 bestselling premium models in 2016. In December, BMW turned the tide and ended up being the runner up brand for the year after getting surpassed by Mercedes-Benz in the first 11 months.

Mercedes-Benz saw sales surge of 30.11 percent to 480,014 units, less than 2,000 units behind BMW.

The combined registration volume of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW reached 1.56 million units, accounting for 71.46 percent of premium models’ total registration volume. The top 10 bestselling premium models were all from the German trio of “ABB”: five from Audi, three from Mercedes-Benz and two from BMW.

Although there isn’t any change of rankings of the German trio of “ABB” in 2016, BMW and Mercedes-Benz launched new locally-produced models and Audi’s new models suffered slow growth in 2016. The German trio of “ABB” could become “BBA” in 2017 in China. 

For the rest of the premium brands in 2016, JLR increased 17.09 percent to 123,911 units, with the F-PACE selling 6,220 units and locally-produced XFL selling 3,206 units. Cadillac sales reached 121,140 units, up 56.75 percent. Lexus sales reached 111,447 units, up 29.98 percent. Lincoln sales reached 33,000 units, up 209.22 percent. Acura sales surged 97.63 percent to 8,105 units powered by the locally-produced Acura CDX with 4,991 units registered. French “luxury” brand DS suffered a significant slump with sales down 40.06 percent in 2016. The Volkswagen Phideon, Volkswagen brand’s “premium” car model produced at SAIC-Volkswagen, had registration volume of 1,526 units. The combined registration volume of premium brands other than “ABB” increased 25.67 percent to 622,991 units, accounting for 28.54 percent of premium models’ total registration volume.  

For super luxury brands in 2016, Maserati sales reached 11,398 units, up 39.37 percent thanks to the Levante, the brand’s first SUV, which sold 4,430 units. Bentley sales reached 2,104 units, up 33.76 percent with the Bentayga SUV selling 423 units. Super luxury brands showed strong growth driven by SUV models. 

Of the top 10 bestselling premium NEVs (including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery EVs) in 2016, four were from Lexus, two from Tesla and one each from Infiniti, Porsche, Volvo and BMW. Lexus’ hybrid models accounted for nearly a quarter of the brand’s total registration volume.

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