Boom times back as car sales to pass 30m

By Li Fusheng (China Daily) 08:34, December 18, 2023

Vehicles are lined up for export in the Haitong International Automotive Terminal in Taicang Port, Jiangsu province, on Dec 1. [JI HAIXIN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

China now the biggest exporter of vehicles worldwide thanks to NEVs, statistics show

China's vehicle market is expected to hit a record 30 million units this year and the figure will rise to 31 million in 2024, according to the country's leading trade association.

"Sales this year are very likely to beat our previous estimate (of a 3 percent year-on-year growth) and set a record," said Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

China's vehicle sales peaked in 2017 at 28.88 million units. They fell to 25.31 million units in 2020 but have since started to rebound. In 2022, 26.86 million units were delivered.

Sales in 2022 were eclipsed by deliveries in the first 11 months of this year, which totaled 26.94 million units, up 10.8 percent year-on-year.

With its confidence bolstered by double-digit growth, the CAAM said that 2023 will end with an annual growth rate of 11.7 percent, which will drive sales in the year to 30 million units.

It estimated that the momentum in the automotive sector will continue in 2024 to push sales to hit 31 million units, up 3 percent from 2023.

Xu Haidong, deputy chief engineer of the CAAM, said the association's optimism is due to macroeconomic recovery as well as the government's favorable industrial and consumption-stimulating policies.

He added that the fast growth of the new energy vehicle sector, the rise of local Chinese marques and a stable and efficient industrial chain will assist the auto sector's development.

Positive signs were obvious in November. Vehicle production hit a record 3.09 million units, up 29.4 percent year-on-year, and sales reached 2.97 million units, up 27.4 percent.

The CAAM said the sector's performance in November exceeded its expectations, explaining that the surge was primarily due to car buyers' rush to place orders. This was partly because of government stimuli and discounts from carmakers, along with a lower comparative base in the same month of 2022.

NEVs saw higher growth. For the first time, their production and sales each surpassed 1 million units in November, said the CAAM.

In the first 11 months, such deliveries totaled 8.3 million units, up 36.7 percent year-on-year. As a serious choice among car buyers, they accounted for more than 30 percent of total vehicle sales in the country over the same period.

Many automakers have experienced rapid growth. Nio sold 15,959 electric vehicles in November, representing a year-on-year increase of around 16 percent. The New York-listed startup saw its cumulative deliveries from January to November exceed 142,000 units, up 33 percent from the same period of 2022.

Li Auto sold 41,800 vehicles in November, which brought its deliveries in the first 11 months to 320,000 units, higher than its sales goal of 300,000 for the year.

The startup said its sales are expected to reach 50,000 units in December.

Established automakers are also making headway in the sector. BYD sold 301,378 vehicles in November, up 31.1 percent year-on-year, bringing its sales so far this year to more than 2.67 million units.

By the first week of December, Tesla's Shanghai plant had rolled out 527,000 vehicles this year, more than the US carmaker's global deliveries in 2020.

BMW Group said earlier in December that its cumulative NEV sales in China to date had passed 300,000 units.

Great Wall Motor, China's largest SUV and pickup maker, saw its NEV sales in November soar 143 percent year-on-year to hit 31,248 units — the eighth consecutive month the Hebei province-based automaker had seen its NEV sales grow. In the first 11 months, GWM's total NEV sales hit 232,145 units, up 92 percent from the same period of 2022.

NEVs are driving China's overall vehicle exports: it has replaced Japan as the world's largest vehicle exporter since the first quarter.

From January to November, 4.41 million made-in-China vehicles were shipped overseas, of which around 25 percent were EVs and plug-in hybrids.

Zu Sijie, chief engineer at SAIC Motor, said China's rapid rise to prominence in the electric and smart vehicle sector has positioned the country to become the world's leading automotive exporter.

SAIC Motor, China's largest vehicle maker by sales, exported 117,800 vehicles in November, up 6.05 percent year-on-year. Its overseas sales in the first 11 months this year totaled 1.07 million units, up 20.78 percent year-on-year.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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