Forbes predicts that the U.S. will bypass China this year as the world’s largest auto market. Forbes does that because it employs as its China expert one of the lousiest forecasters in the business. Regular Forbes columnist Gordon G. Chang published a book in 2001, titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” In it, he predicted that China would implode by 2006, if not earlier, due to the mass of non-performing loans. China did not implode. Instead, non-performing loans brought the U.S. banking system and the world to the brink in 2008. In 2006, Chang wrote the book “Nuclear Showdown.” In it, he predicted that North Korea would rain nuclear missiles on Japan. Has not happened either. Now, Chang predicts that China will no longer be the world’s largest auto market when the year is over, and that the title will go back to the U.S.
By making this prediction, Chang shows that America is a land of opportunity: People who can’t count and aren’t really bright can become famous columnists at Forbes.
“Last year, 14.5 million passenger cars were sold in China, outpacing America’s 12.8 million. In the first quarter of this year, however, the U.S. car market grew by an impressive 19.5% year-on-year, while the Chinese one, as noted, got smaller.
In fact, American car sales are projected to reach 13.9 million this year. If they hit that mark—likely, given the amazing first quarter—China at the end of this year may have to give back the crown of largest auto market to the recovering U.S.”
In 2009, Chang said that Chinese auto sales are a fraud and that the Chinese government stored cars in parking lots across the country. Now, Chang either commits fraud himself. Or, he is simply incompetent.
The 12.8 million automobiles sold last year in the U.S. were not “passenger vehicles.” They were “light vehicles,” comprised of 6.38 million passenger cars and 6.40 million light trucks (data according to Automotive News .)
The corresponding Chinese light vehicle number is not 14.5 million. According to Jenny Gu of J.D. Power, “China’s light vehicle market finished 2011 with 18 million new vehicles sold.”
If American car sales, well, light vehicle sales, reach 13.9 million this year, then they will be some 4 million short of taking the crown from China.
A competent columnist would either compare 6.38 million American passenger cars with 14.5 million Chinese passenger cars. Or more precisely, 12.8 million American light vehicles with 18 million Chinese light vehicles.
Chang does not do that, because he is an incompetent columnist.