For the first time in nine years Volkswagen AG will likely sell more vehicles in China than General Motors, retaking the crown for the biggest foreign automaker selling cars in Chian, the world’s biggest automotive market. Both companies will sell more than 3 million cars and light trucks by the end of the year. Through November, VW is ahead by about 70,000 vehicles at 2.96 million, 17% ahead of 2012 figures. Competition is fierce between the two companies, who have planned to spend a combined $36 billion on operations in China in the near future. Last month VW said that it will be investing $25 billion over the next five years on expansion in China.
Jochem Heizmann, president and CEO of Volkswagen’s China operations, said last month that a lack of capacity prevents VW from selling even more cars in China. “You really have to understand that at present, we really have capacity problems. We could sell more.”
2014 will see VW’s Audi brand, the best selling luxury marque in China, launching a locally assembled A3 and an updated A4. Other group introductions for the Chinese market will be the VW Bora and the Skoda Octavia sedans.
One reason analysts have given for VW surging ahead is GM’s lack of new models. GM will introduce four new models in China in 2014, wearing the Chevrolet brand. SAIC-GM-Wuling will also be expanding the low coast Baojun brand with a compact hatchback and a multipurpose vehicle.
GM’s sales figures in China include the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Opel and Baojun nameplates, along with the Wuling brand of small commercial vehicles. If you exclude Wuling from the total, the Volkswagen brand alone outsells Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac combined.
As a whole, the auto industry have done well this year. Total vehicle sales, including heavy trucks and buses, were 19.9 million units through November. This year China is likely to become the first country to ever book more than 20 million in annual vehicle sales.
In other Chinese auto sales news, Jaguar Land Rover sales are up 28% compared to the same period last year, to 83,499 on strong Evoque and Range Rover Sport sales. Sales should go up even more when local production begins next year since those cars will not be subject to the country’s 25% import duty. Volvo Car Group, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., had sales that were up 45% from last year. Ford overtook Toyota for fifth place on the strength of the EcoSport and Kuga SUVs, and lingering hostility to Japan by Chinese unhappy over disputed islands. Ford is having a record year in China, selling 840,975 vehicles so far, up 51%. Ford’s Focus is China’s best selling car. Toyota sold 809,000 cars and light trucks, up 8% from last year.