(Yicai Global) Nov. 9 -- China's passenger vehicle sales have slid for four straight months.
Retail sales of special passenger cars down 13.2 percent yearly, China Passenger Car Association said in a statistic release yesterday. The negative growth for this year's Chinese auto market is set, said Cui Dongshu, CPCA's general secretary.
'Special passenger cars' refers to sedans, multi-purpose vehicles and sport utility vehicles, while general passenger cars include special passenger cars and minivans -- crossover utility vehicles able to haul cargo as well as passengers. Chinese also call a minivan a 'mianbaoche,' meaning a car shaped like a loaf of bread.
Luxury brands remain the segment with the best sales growth this year. Audi, Cadillac, Volvo, and Lexus all achieved annual sales rises in October, with Cadillac and Lexus both gaining 20 percent.
China's independent brands such as Geely Auto, Great Wall Motors, and Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor all gained annual sales growth. Geely sold 129,000 new vehicles last month, up about 3 percent annually. Great Wall sold 110,100 vehicles last month for yearly growth of 1.93 percent. Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor's sales in October were 46,200, up 1.6 percent annually.
That these independent brands all took a hit from the Chinese auto market chill and mostly slowed down their growth rate warrant attention. Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor's annual sales this year saw a yearly decrease. Geely Auto's monthly sales growth rate dropped to single digits with significant slumps in two major brands' sales. Geely Auto sold 203,000 's Emgrand vehicles this month in an annual drop of 24.4 percent, while its Boyue slid 32.8 percent yearly to 202,000 vehicles.
The differentiated sales growth of China's independent brands is accelerating as the market's enthusiasm for SUVs wanes. Anhui-based JAC Motors continued its downward trend in sales this month, with 33,536 units moved in an annual decrease of 24.4 percent. The state-owned car maker has sold 395,000 cars in the last 10 months in a yearly fall of 7.49 percent. Some minor brands are gradually being marginalized and their market share captured.
The industry has appealed for bailout policies amid the market winter, but the timely rescues of 2015 and 2016 will not likely recur, even if the rumored half car purchase tax cut eventuates, for the market is not what it was in those years, Xu Changming, deputy director of the state policy making think tank State Information Center of China, noted at the 2018 China Automotive Dealers Industry Convention.
The industry has accepted the 'new normal' of low growth rates. Competition will thus intensify in the sector where Chinese independent brands will be the first to feel the freeze. Such brands, including SAIC Motor and Geely Motors, have all released 'affordable' models in the face of the market cold front in the hope of withstanding it through a more proactive approach.
Editor: Ben Armour