Business / Auto Data

Surge in SUV popularity boosts Chinese auto brands

By Zhu Bin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-30 07:36

Surge in SUV popularity boosts Chinese auto brands

Sales in February remained on track for China's light vehicle market, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of 24.6 million units, a level similar to that seen in January, while sales of locally-made models saw a moderate year-on-year rise of 2 percent in the month, albeit distorted by the Chinese New Year holiday, which falls on different days each year.

Ruling out the majority of the impact from the week-long holiday, in year-to-date terms, China's locally-made light vehicle sales rose by 6 percent year-on-year, in line with our previous expectation.

Given that, historically, sales of light commercial vehicles have accelerated in the wake of the Chinese New Year break to reach a yearly peak, we believe that this year's late holiday has had a negative effect on the combined figures for January and February in the sector.

Year-to-date sales of light commercial vehicles amounted to 570,000 units, a decline of 16 percent on the previous year.

The light truck segment continued to lead the decline, with sales falling by 24 percent year-on-year in year-to-date terms. Its future is fraught with risks, particularly where low-end models (with high levels of polluting emissions) are concerned, in light of the rapidly expanding environmental concerns which have attracted increasingly widespread public attention.

This year, the peak selling season, which invariably precedes the New Year holiday, was slightly longer, which favored the passenger vehicle sector somewhat, with sales of locally-made models reaching 3.24 million units in year-to-date terms, marking a double-digit increase of 11 percent year-on-year.

The dynamic trend in the SUV and MPV segments continued unabated, with sales of locally-made models surging by 46 percent and 20 percent year-on-year, respectively. Conversely, the car segment as a whole was seen to plateau.

Chinese brands, in particular, had a strong start to the year, with year-on-year growth in light vehicle sales in year-to-date terms reaching 12 percent, in contrast to the 6 percent year-on-year growth in the overall light vehicle market. Even when allowing for China Association of Automobile Manufacturers' definition of the passenger vehicle segment - which removes the effect of the volume transfer from the Mini Bus segment to the MPV segment - Chinese-branded models' year-to-date share reached 43 percent, pointing to a sizeable improvement from the 38 percent seen in the same period of last year.

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