Business / Auto Data

Discounts yield rebound for foreign car sales

By LI FANGFANG (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-30 02:43

Discounts yield rebound for foreign car sales

Vehicle imports grew 7.3 percent to 1.17 million last year, with a strong rebound in the fourth quarter helping make up for a decline in the first half, China Automobile Trading Co Ltd said.

CAT, the country's largest vehicle importer, noted that first-half imports slumped 10.7 percent to 526,000.

That was the first contraction since 2006, when China implemented its World Trade Organization commitment to lower the import tariff for vehicles to 25 percent.

Imported vehicle registrations reached 1.11 million in 2013, up 12.6 percent.

A slowdown in the market for imported vehicles "started in the second half of 2012, as automakers adjusted their product supply because of the domestic market environment. The market touched bottom in the first half of 2013," said Wang Cun, a senior manager of CAT.

"To ease the pressure of high inventories, dealers made big promotional efforts in the fourth quarter," he added.

In December, Wang said, dealers offered an average 9 percent price discount for imported vehicles, compared with 8.6 percent in November and 8 percent in October.

The discounts revived the market for foreign cars. Customs statistics show that vehicle imports surged more than 50 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

CAT said that in December, dealers' average inventories of imported vehicles fell to 1.36 times monthly sales, from 2.7 times in May.

Wang warned that "dealers of imported vehicles still face high inventory pressure and that will persist in 2014".

By segment, sport utility vehicles remained dominant among imports, with 61.9 percent of overall sales. SUV imports rose 24.4 percent last year to 717,000 units.

Sedan imports fell 11.6 percent to 393,000 and imports of multi-purpose vehicles stood at 48,000, down 0.2 percent.

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