Domestic auto sector makes big impact

Updated: 2012-02-13 09:56

By Xiao Han (China Daily)

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Car manufacturers boost sales in Chinese market

BEIJING - Brilliant sales in the car market of China last year helped General Motors, Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan Alliance outperform Toyota to become the top three global carmakers.

Domestic auto sector makes big impact


China has transformed into the single biggest market worldwide for the three auto leaders and is expected to play a decisive role in the years ahead.

US carmaker GM regained its crown as the No 1 automaker after selling over 9 million vehicles last year. Industry observers concede that China sales had contributed significantly to its rising status.

With two joint ventures in China, GM sold approximately 2.55 million vehicles in the country last year, which accounts for more than a fourth of its global tally. About half of the vehicles sold were minivans, a small and cheap vehicle practical for carrying cargo and people and popular in rural regions.

Volkswagen of Germany did benefit from explosive domestic sales as well. Chinese consumers accounted for more than a quarter of its 8.16 million vehicles delivered last year.

The automaker announced last year it would invest 1.4 billion euros ($1.86 billion) into joint ventures in China from 2012 to 2016 to lift production capacity and develop new models. Combined annual capacity at its joint venture plants are expected to surpass 3 million vehicles in the next few years.

The Renault-Nissan alliance reported combined sales of over 8 million last year and about 1.27 million cars were sold to the Chinese. It maintains domestic production of Nissan cars and in talks with a local partner, Dongfeng Motor Corp, to restart manufacturing Renault vehicles in the near future.

Toyota sold just 880,000 vehicles in China, the least amount compared with the previous three companies. Its global sales totaled 7.95 million last year causing it to drop to the fourth position for global sales. Toyota had been the No 1 in the world for three consecutive years before.

The Chinese-language media reported that Toyota plans to move its China business department to the country from Japan so all decisions could be made by local operations with a quicker response.

Toyota plans to boost its sales in China to over 1 million units this year.

The fifth-largest automaker, Hyundai-Kia of South Korea, enjoyed strong sales here with more than 1 million vehicles sold last year. Meanwhile, it sold nearly 6.6 million vehicles worldwide.

Vehicles sales last year in China totaled 18 million units, which maintains its position as the largest market in the world for three consecutive years.

The nation has become a new center of gravity and annual light vehicle sales could well exceed 30 million by 2018, about twice the market size of the US, according to market research firm JD Power and Associates and LMC Automotive.