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First negative growth in 28 years: China auto sales down 13 percent in December, YTD sales fall 2.8 percent

BEIJING – China’s automobile market remained gloomy with December 2018 sales down 13 percent on a yearly basis to 2.66 million units, according to data released by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on January 14. 

Sales for 2018 fell 2.8 percent to 28.08 million units, the first negative growth in 28 years. 

Passenger vehicle sales in December were 2.23 million units, down 15.84 percent, while commercial vehicle sales in the month were 428,400 units, up 5.24 percent. 

The top 10 automakers by sales in December were SAIC, Dongfeng, FAW, BAIC, GAC, Chang’an, Great Wall, Geely, Chery and Brilliance. Their combined sales were 2.36 million units, accounting for 88.55 percent of total automobile sales.

Passenger car sales in December decreased 14.30 percent from the same period of 2017 to about 1.03 million units. The top 10 passenger car makers by sales in December were FAW-VW, SAIC-GM, SAIC-VW, Dongfeng-Nissan, Beijing-Hyundai, GAC-Honda, Geely, SAIC PC, FAW-Toyota and Dongfeng-Honda. Combined sales of these 10 companies reached 722,800 units, accounting for 70.27 percent of total passenger car sales. The Nissan Sylphy and Volkswagen Lavida maintained their first and second seat on the list of sales of the top 10 car models in December with sales of 56,300 and 40,500 units respectively. The Volkswagen Jetta moved up by one spot to third place by selling 36,700 units in December.  

Sales of SUVs were down 16.32 percent to 981,600 units in December. The top 10 SUV makers by sales in the month were Great Wall, SAIC-VW, Dongfeng-Nissan, Geely, Chery, GAC Motor, Dongfeng-Honda, SAIC-GM-Wuling, Beijing-Hyundai and FAW-VW. Combined sales of these 10 companies reached 530,300 units, accounting for 54.02 percent of total SUV sales. The Haval H6 was again the bestselling SUV model in December by selling 50,300 units. The Baojun 510 safeguarded its second place with sales of 28,500 units. The Volkswagen Tiguan was still third with sales of 28,300 units.

The MPV sector saw sales drop 22.85 percent year-on-year to 176,200 units. The top 10 MPV makers by sales in December were SAIC-GM-Wuling, SAIC-GM, BYD, Dongfeng, Dongfeng-Honda, Chang’an, Changhe, GAC Motor, SAIC-VW and Fujian Benz, with combined sales of 160,600 units, taking up 91.18 percent of total MPV sales. 

Microvan sales were 46,800 units in December, down 9.65 percent from the same month of the previous year. 

Sales of Chinese brand passenger vehicles reached 979, 600 units in December, down 24.27 percent from the same period of 2017, taking up 43.87 percent of total passenger vehicle sales. Sales of German, Japanese, American, Korean and French brand passenger vehicles were 441,500, 415,000, 200,100, 160,100 and 15,900 units respectively in December, accounting for 19.77, 18.58, 8.96, 7.17 and 0.71 percent of total passenger vehicle sales in the month. 

In the commercial vehicle market in December, bus sales reached 64,800 units, down 13.93 percent year-on-year, while truck sales reached 363,600 units, up 9.60 percent. The top 10 commercial vehicle makers by sales in December were Beiqi-Foton, Dongfeng, SAIC-GM-Wuling, JMC, CNHTC, Chang’an, Shaanxi Auto, FAW, JAC and Great Wall, with combined sales of 291,100 units, taking up 67.96 percent of total commercial vehicle sales. 

New energy vehicle sales reached 225,000 units in December, up 38.2 percent on a yearly basis. New energy passenger vehicle sales reached 166,000 units with a year-on-year increase of 69 percent, while new energy commercial vehicle sales reached 59,000 units, down 8.8 percent. 

For the year 2018, passenger vehicle sales reached 23.71 million units, down 4.08 percent, and commercial vehicle sales reached 4.37 million units, up 5.05 percent. NEV sales increased 61.7 percent to 1,256,000 units, with new energy passenger vehicle sales up 82 percent to 1,053,000 units and new energy commercial vehicle sales up 2.6 percent to 203,000 units. 

Sales of Chinese brand passenger vehicles came to 9.98 million units in 2018, down 8 percent from 2017, accounting for 42.1 percent of total passenger vehicle sales in the year. The top 10 Chinese brand passenger vehicle makers by sales in 2018 were SAIC, Geely, Chang’an, Great Wall, Dongfeng, Chery, BAIC, GAC, BYD and Jiangnan Auto, with combined sales of 8.91 million units, accounting for 37.58 percent of total passenger vehicle sales in the year. 

In consideration of macro economy, market development and other related factors, CAAM predicts automobile sales in 2019 will be around 28.1 million units, about the same level as in 2018, with estimated sales of 23.7 million passenger vehicles and 4.4 million commercial vehicles. Total market demand will be 28.2 million units after balancing import and export volumes in 2019, according to CAAM.

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