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Auto sales set to rise with new promotions

Manufacturers use online marketing to boost performance during '618' festival

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-24 09:22
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A woman hosts a livestream for vehicles at an auto show on June 15. CHEN GUANYAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

A million yuan of subsidies, half-price vehicles and other eye-catching promotions were provided by auto companies at this year's June 18 online shopping carnival, in efforts to capture consumer attention and stimulate auto sales.

More than 20 major automakers, including BYD, Changan, Geely and Wuling, featured promotions on more than 100 models at the shopping gala, commonly known as "618". Some of them utilized leading e-commerce platforms such as JD, Tmall and Pinduoduo to market their wares.

Electric vehicle startup Xpeng Motors offered special deals on JD that from May 25 to June 18, customers purchasing the 2024 version P5 or P7i sedans and the G6 or G9 SUVs received a lifetime battery warranty.

Similarly, Chery's high-end marque Exeed offered a promotion on Tmall and JD, where consumers could use a 618-yuan ($85) voucher to get 3,618 yuan off their car purchase.

Amid the surge in digitalization, automakers are leveraging livestreaming as a channel to promote their products. On June 18, SAIC-GMWuling hosted a Douyin livestreaming event with limited time subsidies of 1 million yuan. Changan Mazda ran a 28-hour livestreaming, offering discounts of up to 49,999 yuan in car-purchase vouchers.

As the first half of the year nearing its end, the 618 event offered car companies a final opportunity to boost sales and meet half-year targets.

The China Passenger Car Association noted that the swift release of production capacity following improvements in manufacturers' systemic capabilities places June as a potentially strong month for sales.

A report from Bocom International also forecast that in June, automakers would strive to meet their half-year performance targets, fostering a positive trend in consumer sentiment and driving month-on-month improvements in domestic car sales.

Domestic automobile sales reached 2.42 million units in May, up 1.5 percent year-on-year. From January to May, vehicle sales totaled 11.5 million units, increasing 8.3 percent compared with the same period of 2023, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

As a key driver of market growth, sales of new energy vehicles continued to grow, which reached 955,000 units in May, increasing 33.3 percent year-on-year, with the market share climbing to 39.5 percent.

In the first five months, NEV sales stood at 3.9 million units, a year-on-year growth of 32.5 percent.

Despite the growth in NEV sales in China, their exports in May lagged behind those of fuel-powered vehicles.

In May, NEV exports totaled 99,000 units, a decline of 9 percent year-on-year while fuel-powered vehicle exports reached 383,000 units, an increase of 36.6 percent over the same month of 2023.

Chinese NEV manufacturers have reduced exports to Europe due to the European Union's announced tariffs on Chinese automobile imports.

Automakers such as BYD, Chery and Neta are shifting their focus to markets in Southeast Asia and South America.

CAAM Deputy Secretary-General Chen Shihua noted that domestic demand growth is relatively sluggish and industry competition is intensifying. Moreover, the persistent challenges of international trade protectionism are placing additional pressure on the auto industry, necessitating effective measures to ensure stable industry development.

Beyond complete vehicles, the automotive aftermarket industry shone at the 618 shopping carnival, underscoring the focus on online car service stores.

Tmall rolled out offers on car washes, polishing and waxing services, and maintenance packages. JD Auto introduced promotions such as 50 percent off maintenance and exclusive brand discounts. Tuhu Automotive Service teamed up with Michelin and other brands for special events.

According to a report from JD Auto, transaction volumes for maintenance cards surged more than 30 times compared to 2023. Additionally, the number of transactions by NEV owners increased by 155 percent year-on-year.

Car owners have remarked that pricing at internet-based car service stores is transparent, which eliminates concerns about unexpected fees that are common offline. They mentioned the benefit of purchasing maintenance cards during shopping events to take advantage of various promotions that help reduce vehicle maintenance costs.

JD Auto has established more than 1,500 stores across more than 160 cities and boasts more than 40,000 partners nationwide. Tmall Auto has more than 2,000 stores in 300 cities, while Tuhu operates more than 6,000 factory stores across 332 cities.

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