We are still waiting for the September sales numbers for China (at least we were spared the usual CATRC drama of faux numbers – maybe because there was a one week holiday?) But here comes something interesting (or shocking, depending on who’s side you’re on.) Auto sales in China could hit 17 million units this year, up from 13.6 million in 2009, Chinese state media said today, citing the China Association for Auto Manufacturers (CAAM.) And that was the harmless part.
According to a Xinhua news report, brought to us by India’s Economic Times, because the Xinhua report can’t be found, the CAAM expects a rise of 25 percent to 17m units when the year is over. Xinhua also adds that sales of 17 million would equal the highest yearly figure ever reached in the United States. Rub it in boys, rub it in.
The CAAM is not known for wild projections. Actually, their guesses are usually on the conservative side. Like any good executive, they only make projections they already know they can and will reach.
They don’t have official numbers for September yet, but “last month sales are expected to be up by nearly 40 per cent over September 2009.” In that case, you bet they will.
Now, the Chinese government even has a formula for car growth: “The growth in the auto sector should be maintained at about one and a half times the growth in gross domestic product,” said Xu Changming, an official in charge of resource development at the State Information Center. Now consider that China gets sweaty palms if GDP growth is below 10 percent, and you’ll know how many cars they will sell. At the barest minimum.
With the help of Chinese sources we had already predicted in May that sales could rise by 25 percent to 17m. We are pleased to read that Xinhua now follows the math we had published in July: Even if the number of cars manufactured in China in the future does not increase by more than 10 per cent per year, total sales should surpass 40 million units annually before 2020 and could attain 75 million by 2030, Xinhua said.
Update: Automotive News [sub] reports that GM’s sales increased 15 percent in China in September. GM and its Chinese joint ventures sold 208,353 units last month. Ford’s China deliveries rose 26 percent in September to 50,970 units. While the Ford number is insignificant, the GM number isn’t. GM usually is a good indicator for the Chinese market. 15 percent for GM, and “nearly 40 percent” for the whole market is a serious divergence. Something must be off – again.
Update 2: More numbers are coming in from Reuters.
Industry monster SAIC, which runs joint ventures with GM and VW sold a total of 324,831 vehicles last month, up 23 percent. In September, SAIC’s JV with GM sold 100,825 units, up 41 percent. Sales at its JV with VW are up 36 percent to 95,869 units. (That’s not all of VW China, FAW has the other half.) What ruined GM’s data was Wuling. The maker of millions of delivery vans that made GM’s China numbers look good so far, suddenly reported flat sales, 101,290 units in September ‘10, versus 101,000 units a year earlier. That explains it the 15 percent overall number.
Over at state-owned Dongfeng, sales are up 22.3 percent from a year ago to 180,162 units sold in September. Dongfeng has JVs with Honda, Nissan, and PSA.
These numbers point to a good month, and make the 17m target very credible. China expects a rush in new cars in the last few months of the year. People don’t know whether the tax incentives for small cars will still be there next year, so people will buy this year instead of next.