By on April 11, 2012

China’s March numbers are in and they are – ok. The first quarter is down a little, March is up a little. People who were hoping for a return of unbridled growth are just as disappointed as those who had wished the pox of a monster crash on China.

Total auto sales were up 1.02 percent to 1,838,600 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported today. Sales of passenger vehicles were up 4.54 percent to 1.4 million. Sales of commercial vehicles, down 8.80 percent to 438,600 units, still give cause for concern: Sales of commercial vehicles indicate the direction of commerce in general.

The first quarter is still negative. 4.79 million vehicles were sold January through March, 3.4 percent less than in Q1 2011. Sales of 3.77 million passenger cars in Q1 are 1.3 percent below the first quarter of the prior year.

Our patent pending sales oracle, GM China, is still overshooting the market. This reflects a general trend: Smaller cars in China are having trouble selling, whereas bigger bore cars, the mainstay of joint ventures, still enjoy brisk sales. The CAAM again reported a drop in the sub 1.6 liter segment, and a further reduction of the market share of indigenous brands.

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5 Comments on “China In March 2012: Up A Tad...”


  • avatar

    Bertel, if Google Translate is feeding me the CAAM page correctly, sales were up 4.54% in March, not 5.54%. Could be a typo, or I could be losing something in translation, but FYI.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    There can’t be growth.
    How could there be car sales growth in a country were people are not allowed to purchase cars, without winning a lottery?

    • 0 avatar

      “People” are allowed to buy as many cars as they want in China. Except that IN BEIJING, they need to win the lottery to get a license plate for their car. (I also understand ways have been found to get around it.) In Shanghai, plates are auctioned off. Elsewhere: Go for it.

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      Bert has the gist of it, but I think that his explanation is a bit sparse.

      Each Province(state for the lesser educated) licenses its cars differently. Some of the major cities like Shanghai and Beijing have serious issues with too many vehicles so there it can be difficult to get a vehicle with a plate.

      Beijing is attempting to solve the issue with a lottery for new license plates, whereas Shanghai uses a monthly auction system.

      Other provinces are different (and substantially cheaper)

      Let’s talk Shanghai, in October is cost about 46,000 RMB to buy a plate. I think November it dropped to 36,000. Someone I know had just bought a plate and ended up being very very upset about how much he could have saved by waiting 1 month. Last month in Shanghai it cost 62,000 RMB to get a license plate. There are a limited number of license plates issued each month.

      Considering you can buy a new Chinese car for less than 60,000 RMB you can see how expensive that is.

      Now not having a license plate in China isn’t the same as in the USA, in fact it’s common for people to own a car for months to a year or more with no license plate and drive it on the road here.

      Probably the same thing happens in Bejing. People are just waiting for their license plates. What you get is restrictions from being allowed to access certain roads, namely the elevated freeways around Shanghai. You can drive the local roads just fine and not have an issue with the police.

      Incidentally I’ve heard that some places near shanghai you can get a license plate for less than 3000 RMB. So this system really comes down to where you live.

      So there are no restrictions on buying cars here in China, just lots of taxes and depending on where you live, getting a license plate can become a major headache.


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