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China December 2018: Nissan (+6%), MG (+139%) break records, Toyota, Haval, BYD gallop ahead in 6th consecutive market decline (-13%)

MG sales soar 139% year-on-year thanks to the ZS smashing its monthly volume record by 58%.

The Chinese new vehicle market continues on its downward spiral with December marking the 6th consecutive year-on-year decline and the second double-digit drop in a row at -13% to 2.661.500 wholesales deliveries (ex-factory shipments) vs. 3.060.300 a year ago in December 2017. Passenger cars freefall 15.8% to 2.233.100 while commercial vehicles remove some of the edge of this ghastly fall thanks to a +5.2% uptick to 428.400 units. 2018 ends on a -2.8% drop to 28.080.600 units, the first decline since 1990 which we will detail in a separate Full Year 2018 post. In the detail of passenger cars, sedans and hatchbacks drop 14.3% to 1.028.500, SUVs skid down even faster at -16.3% to 981.600, MPVs decline 22.8% to 176.200 and microvans recede 9.7% to 46.800. Again new energy vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) are now the sole outpost of growth in China with wholesales up 38.5% to 225.000 units including 193.000 EVs and 32.000 PHEVs. As it has been the case throughout the second half of the year, Chinese brands have been hit particularly hard by the market decline and this is true again in December with wholesales down 24.3% to 979.600 units and 43.9% share of passenger cars vs. 48.7% a year ago. American brands fare even worse, potentially hampered by negative sentiment brought by the economic war the Trump administration has triggered with China: they freefall -39.6% to just 200.100 units and 9% share vs. 12.5% in December 2017. But the French (-71.2%) are the most affected at just 15.900 sales while South Korean brands (-8.6%) manage to contain their fall and improve their share to 7.2% vs. 6.6% a  year ago. In contrast, both Japanese (+10.2%) and German carmakers (+10%) actually swim upstream to post double-digit gains leading to 18.6% and 19.8% shares respectively. 

A raft of new SUVs including the Tayron enables VW back into positive in December.

And indeed, Volkswagen (+4%) manages its first year-on-year gain since last July as its new SUV onslaught is starting to pay dividends with the Tayron and Tharu each above 10.000 wholesales for the first time and the T-Roc remaining high at 8.500, as well as some strong performances by the Jetta (+163%), Passat (+35%), Golf (+32%) more than compensate for poor scoreboards by the Polo (-71%), Lamando (-62%), Magotan (-25%), Sagitar (-25%) and Lavida (-19%). The Teramont (-2%), Tiguan (-4%) and Bora (-5%) limit their fall. In 2nd place Honda (+14%) is in top shape once again, posting a third consecutive double-digit gain which is no mean feat in the current context. The Japanese carmaker is lifted by strong showings by the Crider (+177%), Civic (+105%), Accord (+52%) and XR-V (+35%) as well as a great start by the Inspire, already approaching 5.000 monthly wholesales. 

All-time record sales by the X-Trail and Sylphy push Nissan up to a new personal best.

Nissan (+6%) is up two spots on November to leap onto the podium, scoring an all-time record volume at 129.190 units (PB: 123.125 in November 2017) helped greatly by its two best-sellers both scoring all-time highs: the Sylphy (+28%) breaks its personal best for the 2nd month in a row at 56.339 wholesales partly thanks to the addition of an EV variant attracting over 2.000 shipments this month, while the X-Trail (+13%) eclipses its previous best of 20.861 a year ago at 23.510, ranking 4th best-selling SUV in the country for December. Haval (+21%) is in full renaissance mode: after ending a streak of 8 consecutive months of double-digit losses and 18 months of decline in October, it now snaps its first double-digit gain in almost 2 years (since February 2017), also lodging a 2nd straight six-digit figure and climbing up to #4, its highest ranking since December 2016. The leading Chinese SUV carmaker is surfing on the great start of the F5 and F7, already both scoring five-digit wholesales figures, a late record run by the M6 (15.042) and a contained -9% drop by the H6, above 50.000 units.

The new F5 and F7 help Haval up to its first double-digit gain in almost 2 years. 

Toyota (+30%) has taken the relay of Geely as the fastest-growing Top 10 manufacturer in China, holding this title for the 4th month in a row aligning a stunning 6th consecutive double-digit gain, helped the new Camry (+534%) and evergreen performances by the Prado (+178%), Highlander (+47%), Corolla (+43%) and RAV4 (+35%) as well as the addition of the C-HR/IZOA tandem although it is already losing significant steam at -47% on November to just 7.213 combined wholesales this month. The remainder of the Top 10 is in dire straits, notably Geely (-41%) which hadn’t seen such a freefall in over 5 years, but also Buick (-29%), Baojun (-37%) and Beijing Auto (-26%).

New design and hybrid model propel BYD to volumes not seen since 2010.

BYD (+17%) ends the month 3 units short of 60.000 wholesales, a level it hadn’t reached since 2010 at a time when the F3 was the best-selling passenger car in the country outright, boosted by the new Tang (+615%) and Yuan (+546%) as well as the valiant e5 (+618%). Audi (+71%) compensates for a dismal result in December 2017 with the A4L (+193%) and A6L (+93%) doing most of the work, while Roewe (+21%), Mercedes (+19%), GAC Trumpchi (+17%) and BMW (+16%) also post cool gains further down. MG (+139%) post a stunning gain to smash its all-time volume record by more than 14.000 units from 23.987 last January to 37.128 this month thanks to a stellar – and record-breaking – performance of its star crossover the ZS at 18.562 (+219%) vs. a PB of 11.755 last April.

The Jetour X70 continues its incredible market launch, now above 13.500 monthly units.

Other excellent performers this month include Jetour positively smashing the 10.000 monthly wholesales benchmark to 13.646 units of its sole nameplate the X70, newcomer Bestune improving 56% on its inaugural month to 6.550 units of the T77, Hongqi posting a 7th consecutive record month at 4.685 sales, JMC (+131%), Cadillac (+54%) thanks to the new XT4, Volvo (+25%), Cowin (+17%) and SWM (+9%). As could be expected given the market performance, dizzying falls are more the norm. Among Chinese carmakers, Landwind (-95%), Karry (-85%), Bisu (-77%), Brilliance (-76%), Zotye (-69%), Haima (-64%), Lifan (-61%), Leopaard (-60%), Borgward (-52%), Changan (-48%), FAW (-46%), Maxus (-45%), WEY (-45%) and Soueast (-44%) return the poorest results while the hardest hit among foreigners include Suzuki (-88%), Luxgen (-87%), Ford (-80%), Peugeot (-75%), Renault (-74%), Citroen (-66%), Land Rover (-57%), Acura (-52%), Jeep (-51%), DS (-49%), Jaguar (-42%), Mazda (-30%), Infiniti (-25%) and Chevrolet (-23%).

The Wuling Hongguang is #1 in China for the first time since last March.

Although this year is the first time since 2012 that the Wuling Hongguang (-6%) isn’t the best-selling vehicle in China, its consolation prize is winning December, its first monthly pole position finish since last March. This is thanks to a completely new generation of the model launch at mid-year. The Nissan Sylphy follows ahead of the Haval H6 with the VW Lavida (-19%) stuck at #4 but still winning the year for the first time ever and the VW Jetta (+163%) rounding up the Top 5. Even though it loses almost half its sales year-on-year, the Baojun 510 (-47%) ensures it remains the 2nd best-selling SUV in the country above the VW Tiguan (-4%), with the Chevrolet Cavalier posting its 2nd strongest month ever at a record #9 and the Nissan X-Trail (+13%) cracks the Top 10 for the first time.

The Roewe i5 breaks last month’s volume record by 58% to lift it above 20.000 wholesales.

Extremely impressive performance of the Roewe i5 up 58% on its previous volume record established just last month and crossing the 20.000 unit-milestone for the first time, with other all-time record-breakers including the Hyundai ix35 (+52%) at 18.320 beating a 4 year-old PB of 17.431 in December 2014, the Mercedes GLC (+20%) at 13.935, the Geely Binyue at 13.222, the Kia Sportage (+198%) at 12.726, BAIC EU-Series (+287%) at 12.561, Geely Binrui at 10.278, Chery Tiggo 8 at 10.008, Hyundai La Festa at 9.220, BYD Qin Pro at 8.615, BMW X3 at 8.385, Volvo XC60 at 6.296, Chery Arrizo GX at 6.200, WEY VV6 at 5.402 and Kia Stonic at 4.706. Lifted by its new generation, the GAC Trumpchi GS5 posts its largest volume in 4 years at 8.176.

Previous month: China November 2018: Toyota, Nissan Sylphy break records, 5th straight decline (-13.9%) tilts YTD market into negative (-1.7%)

One year ago: China December 2017: Geely, Baojun and Zotye end year at record levels

Full December 2018 Top 90 All China-made brands and Top 505 models below.

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