The Truth About Cars » new vehicle sales The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » new vehicle sales Off-Lease Consumers Add Fuel To New-Vehicle Demand Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:15:54 +0000 Cadillac-Pre-owned

New-vehicle sales are on the rise due not only to demand originally held back by the Great Recession, but by consumers coming off of their leases for their next latest and greatest.

Automotive News reports Manheim Auctions chief economist Tom Webb proclaimed that off-lease volume will be on par with new-vehicle sales throughout 2014 before surpassing sales the following year and into 2016, forecasting over 3 million new leases signed in that year alone:

If you consider that new vehicles are increasingly being bought by high-income households that do, in fact, want to trade on a regular cycle, then they should be in a lease, not a retail contract.

Webb added that since residual risk “always has to reside somewhere,” the perfect place for such risk would be none other than the lessor “who has a portfolio of vehicles and hopefully also has a professional remarketing arm.”

Speaking of remarketing, Webb says the certified pre-owned market is in good health, with sales of CPO vehicles outpacing the off-lease market for the third consecutive year in 2014, with the latter providing the foundation stones for the former.

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Europe In May 2011: Signs Of Life Fri, 17 Jun 2011 15:25:36 +0000

Europeans are either tired of their old cars, or the effects of the cash for clunkers largesse are finally getting digested, or both. Whatever the reason, new passenger car registrations increased by 7.1 percent in the EU in May, as data released by the European Auto Manufacturers Association ACEA shows.

Year to date, registrations are now only 0.8 percent below the same period in 2010. If this trend continues, then 2011 can close with a slight increase. Which is needed, because 2010 was not a good year in Europe.

In May, a total of 1,208,583 new cars were registered in the EU. Registrations were up in Germany (+22.0 percent), France (+6.1 percent) and Italy (+3.6 percent), while the market contracted by 23.3 percent in Spain and 1.7 percent in the UK. Overall, most countries saw their demand for cars increase.

January – May
%Share Units Units % Chg
’11 ’10 ’11 ’10 11/10
ALL BRANDS** 5,885,631 5,933,738 -0.8
VW Group 22.7 21.0 1,336,027 1,246,813 +7.2
VOLKSWAGEN 12.1 11.2 713,333 663,399 +7.5
AUDI 4.8 4.4 284,371 262,236 +8.4
SEAT 2.3 2.2 132,435 131,200 +0.9
SKODA 3.5 3.2 205,053 189,148 +8.4
Others (1) 0.0 0.0 835 830 +0.6
PSA Group 13.2 13.9 776,357 826,461 -6.1
PEUGEOT 7.2 7.6 420,964 450,588 -6.6
CITROEN 6.0 6.3 355,393 375,873 -5.4
RENAULT Group 9.7 10.5 571,272 623,971 -8.4
RENAULT 7.9 8.7 466,199 515,504 -9.6
DACIA 1.8 1.8 105,073 108,467 -3.1
GM Group 8.7 8.2 510,968 488,008 +4.7
OPEL/VAUXHALL 7.4 7.0 437,709 413,026 +6.0
CHEVROLET 1.2 1.3 73,061 74,413 -1.8
GM (US) 0.0 0.0 198 569 -65.2
FORD 8.1 8.7 476,851 517,148 -7.8
FIAT Group 7.3 8.4 430,443 498,264 -13.6
FIAT 5.5 6.8 321,288 402,957 -20.3
LANCIA 0.7 0.9 42,965 51,399 -16.4
ALFA ROMEO 1.1 0.7 63,483 41,137 +54.3
Others (2) 0.0 0.0 2,707 2,771 -2.3
BMW Group 5.6 4.9 329,138 292,456 +12.5
BMW 4.5 4.0 263,874 238,738 +10.5
MINI 1.1 0.9 65,264 53,718 +21.5
DAIMLER 4.6 4.5 271,722 264,364 +2.8
MERCEDES 4.0 3.9 236,609 229,420 +3.1
SMART 0.6 0.6 35,113 34,944 +0.5
TOYOTA Group 4.1 4.3 243,525 254,599 -4.3
TOYOTA 4.0 4.2 232,507 246,578 -5.7
LEXUS 0.2 0.1 11,018 8,021 +37.4
NISSAN 3.4 2.8 199,879 164,724 +21.3
HYUNDAI 2.8 2.6 165,460 153,244 +8.0
KIA 1.9 1.9 109,263 112,825 -3.2
VOLVO CAR CORP. 1.8 1.5 103,947 90,955 +14.3
SUZUKI 1.3 1.4 77,892 83,288 -6.5
HONDA 1.1 1.4 65,892 81,835 -19.5
MAZDA 1.1 1.3 61,974 79,906 -22.4
MITSUBISHI 0.8 0.6 49,146 35,571 +38.2
JAGUAR LAND ROVER Group 0.7 0.7 40,642 41,921 -3.0
LAND ROVER 0.5 0.5 31,391 30,653 +2.4
JAGUAR 0.2 0.2 9,251 11,268 -17.9
CHRYSLER (3) 0.2 0.3 11,785 17,242 -31.6
OTHER** 0.9 1.0 53,447 60,143 -11.1

All quiet on the manufacturer front, except for two skirmishes: The Volkswagen Group gained 1.7 percent market share in the first five months, further cementing its domination of the crumbling fortress Europe.  The Fiat Group lost 1.1 percent share. The Japanese are holding their own with only minor losses YTD. Nissan even gained 0.6 percent of share.

Full data are here as PDF and here as Excel file.

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May Sales In Japan Drop 37.8 Percent – Foreigners Save The Day Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:31:21 +0000

Sales of new cars, trucks and buses in Japan dropped 37.8 percent from a year earlier in May, data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association show. It could have been worse.

Sales totaled 142,154 vehicles in May, falling for the eighth consecutive month. Market observers had expected a steeper fall. After the March 11 earthquake, production in Japan had stopped pretty much until Mid April and resumed very cautiously at a low level. These numbers do not include mini vehicles, which are kept by another association. Combined with  mini vehicles, new vehicles sales in Japan dropped 33.4 percent to a total of 237,364 vehicles, Reuters writes.

May ’11 May ’10 Change
Daihatsu 107 495 -78.4%
Hino 1,078 1,878 -42.6%
Honda 21,294 32,524 -34.5%
Isuzu 1,648 3,066 -46.2%
Lexus 1,789 1,889 -5.3%
Mazda 8,510 13,539 -37.1%
Mitsubishi 4,059 4,266 -4.9%
Mitsubishi Fuso 894 1,573 -43.2%
Nissan 28,037 33,406 -16.1%
Subaru 5,622 4,775 17.7%
Suzuki 5,434 4,267 27.3%
Toyota 48,733 112,174 -56.6%
UD Trucks 323 769 -58.0%
Other 14,626 13,893 5.3%
Total 142,154 228,514 -37.8%

Three factors appear to be in play here:

  • Japanese production slowly sputtered back to life in May.
  • The pull-forward effect of last year’s subsidies is slowly being digested.
  • Some of the shortfall was compensated by higher imports.

Sales of imported cars rose 31 percent. Without the help of imports, the numbers would have been uglier. Made-in-Japan cars alone recorded a drop of 42.5 percent. Imports held a (for Japan) humongous share of 13.5 percent in May.

In June, the numbers will most likely improve. The Japanese car industry recovers faster than thought. Today, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco confirmed to TTAC that the company will be at 90 percent capacity in June in Japan. Overseas, the situation remains unchanged.


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May U.S. Sales Forecast: Cloudy In Japan, Sunny In Korea Thu, 26 May 2011 12:46:22 +0000

TrueCar released its May 2011 sales forecast. At this time in the calendar, these forecasts, based on real transactional data, usually come close to reality. For May 2011, TrueCar expects new light vehicle sales in the U.S. to be 1,060,392 units, down 3.7 percent from May 2010 and down 8.3 percent from April 2011(unadjusted basis for sales days). This would be a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 11.85 million new car sales, down from 13.18 million in April 2011 and only slightly up from 11.63 million in May 2010. Why the sudden reluctance?

“Inventory constraints finally hit the Japanese automakers this month but the recovery in supply appears quicker than first anticipated,” said Jesse Toprak, VP of Industry Trends and Insights for “Current inventory shortages and perceived inventory shortages led to the lowest incentive spending in nearly nine years and the lowest SAAR of the year. This is a sizable speed bump on the road to recovery.”

And who will gain from gain from Japan’s loss? Not so much the Detroit 3. They have their own tsunami to deal with. “High gas prices affected large truck sales dramatically hurting GM and Ford,” says Toprak, “but because of their better balanced product portfolio, due to their new fuel-efficient models, they were able to weather the storm with no major damage.”

As intimated in early April, Hyundai/Kia shapes up as the big winner. “High-flying Hyundai-Kia Automotive will outsell Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Co. in May,” said Automotive News [sub] after reading the TrueCar forecast. If the forecast becomes reality, Hyundai/Kia will take the #3 position in U.S. market share, after GM and Ford.

Manufacturer May 2011 Forecast April 2011 May 2010 YoY May11 /10 MoM

May/Apr 11

GM 21.30% 20.10% 20.20% 1.10% 1.20%
Ford 17.80% 16.40% 17.40% 0.40% 1.40%
Hyundai/Kia 10.90% 9.40% 7.30% 3.60% 1.50%
Chrysler 10.40% 10.10% 9.50% 0.90% 0.30%
Toyota 10.30% 13.80% 14.80% -4.50% -3.50%
Honda 8.80% 10.80% 10.60% -1.80% -2.00%
Nissan 6.30% 6.20% 7.60% -1.30% 0.10%

Toyota, which had the #3 position in May 2010, would drop to #5, trailing even Chrysler. Toyota has the biggest exposure to the effects of the tsunami at home, and appears to become the most serious May casualty in the American market.

If TrueCar’s forecast pans out, the three largest Japanese brands, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota will have lost an aggregate 7.6 percent of market share between May 2010 and May 2011. The bulk of these losses, 3.6 percent will have singlehandedly scooped up by Hyundai/Kia, while the Detroit 3 have to divvy-up an aggregate gain of 2.4 percent.

Month-on-month, HoNiTo will have lost 5.4 percent of share. Detroit 3 will have gained a total of 2.9 percent, and Hyundai/Kia will have gained 1.5 pwercent of market share, the biggest gain of all brands on TrueCar’s list.

The TrueCar prediction jibes with an earlier estimate by J.D. Power. On May 19, JDP had forecasted sales of 1.07 million units for May, and a SAAR of 11.9 million. JDP’s number is adjusted for selling days. Adjusted for selling days, May could eke out a small gain – but this is high math which we will leave until the real numbers are in next week.


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Europe In April 2011: New Car Sales Down 4.1 Percent Wed, 18 May 2011 14:19:49 +0000

If you are looking for a growth market for cars, don’t look to Europe. In terms of car sales, the Old Country is going sideways with a negative bias. In April, sales of new cars in the EU was down 4.1 percent on the year. New registrations amounted to 1,089,118 units. For the first four months of 2011, registrations totaled 4,674,457 units, or 2.7 percent less than over the same period a year earlier. This according to data released by the European Auto Manufacturers Association ACEA.

With the exception of Germany (+2.6 percent), demand was down in all European volume markets in April. From January to April, growth prevailed in two thirds of the markets but the downturn recorded in the UK (8.5 percent), Italy (-19.0 percent) and Spain (-26.3 percent) resulted in a 2.7 percent decline in the EU demand. In comparison, Germany looks downright healthy with 10.7 percent growth in the first four months of the yea r.

January – April
%Share Units Rank Units Rank % Chg
’11 ’10 ’11 ’11 ’10 ’10 11/10
ALL BRANDS 4,674,457 4,805,297 -2.7
VW Group 22.4 20.8 1,047,825 1 997,663 1 +5.0
PSA Group 13.1 13.9 611,914 2 668,676 2 -8.5
RENAULT Group 9.9 10.5 462,327 3 505,454 3 -8.5
GM Group 8.6 8.2 402,615 4 394,577 6 +2.0
FORD 8.1 8.9 377,340 5 427,750 4 -11.8
FIAT Group 7.3 8.5 340,952 6 409,262 5 -16.7
BMW Group 5.4 4.8 254,522 7 230,843 7 +10.3
DAIMLER 4.5 4.3 209,988 8 205,683 9 +2.1
TOYOTA Group 4.4 4.4 204,470 9 211,169 8 -3.2
NISSAN 3.5 2.8 161,710 10 135,013 10 +19.8
HYUNDAI 2.8 2.6 132,464 11 125,418 11 +5.6
KIA 1.8 1.9 85,826 12 90,943 12 -5.6
VOLVO CAR CORP. 1.8 1.6 83,618 13 75,736 13 +10.4
SUZUKI 1.4 1.4 63,998 14 69,291 14 -7.6
HONDA 1.2 1.4 56,363 15 67,725 15 -16.8
MAZDA 1.1 1.4 52,105 16 65,637 16 -20.6
OTHER 0.9 1.0 43,490 17 47,344 17 -8.1
MITSUBISHI 0.9 0.6 40,032 18 29,159 19 +37.3
JAGUAR LAND ROVER 0.7 0.7 33,669 19 34,091 18 -1.2
CHRYSLER 0.2 0.3 9,229 20 13,863 20 -33.4

Not much change in the manufacturer ranking. Based on first four months of data, Volkswagen remains the king of the hill. Volkswagen added 1.7 percent to its unassailable market share. GM climbed from rank 6 to rank 4 by adding 0.4 percent of share. Ford dropped from #4 to #5. Fiat lost a whopping 1.2 percent of share and dropped to place 6 from 5.

For further analysis, all data can be downloaded as PDF and Excel.



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China In April 2011: Down! Tue, 10 May 2011 13:51:47 +0000  

Our patent pending GM China sales oracle saw it coming: GM China was down in April, therefore, the whole Chinese market had to be down in April. And so it was – by a hair: April new vehicle sales in China were down 0.25 percent, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. This is the first decline in 27 months.

1.55 million units changed hand is April. 1.14 million units were passenger vehicles. That part of the industry is up 2.79 percent. Only 409,700 commercial vehicles were sold in April, down 7.84 percent.

This trend had also been indicated by our GM China sales oracle: While GM China’s passenger vehicle sales were up, its commercial sales were way down. With half of its volume commercial, GM China has a much higher exposure to the slow selling “breadvans”. This is reflected in the fact that GM China was down 4.6 percent in April, while the total market was down only 0.25 percent.

A lot of people are concerned about the Chinese economy, some even genuinely. They are looking in all the wrong places. They should look at commercial vehicle sales. These are usually regarded as a leading indicator of economic vitality. When truck sales go up, it’s because economic growth goes up. Then, car sales follow as a lagging indicator. The reverse is also true. Trucks are bought when they are needed, and avoided when they are not needed. Commercial sales have been weak for several months now in China. A loss of nearly 8 percent in the commercial department is a cause for concern.

At the press conference, the usual suspects were fingered as responsible for the decline: The cancelled incentives – and of course the supply chain interruptions from Japan. “We still can’t get detailed reports from Japan about the parts disruption, so we need more time to estimate the earthquake’s impact on China’s auto industry, but we did get reports from all Japan car makers about their production suspension in China,” said Secretary General Dong Yang. From what I am hearing, impact of the Japanese parts paralysis on Chinese production had been relatively minor.

In the January-April period, overall auto sales grew 5.95 percent from a year earlier to 6.53 million units, while passenger vehicles sales rose 7.55 percent to 4.99 million units.

4 months into the year, Dong Yang opined that annual growth could be less than  the 10  to15 percent previously envisaged.

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April New Car Sales: The Last Hurrah? Sat, 30 Apr 2011 01:33:26 +0000  


Forecasts for April U.S. new vehicle sales differ widely amongst the industry soothsayers this month.

J.D. Power expects total light-vehicle sales for April to come in at 1,147,300 units, 13 percent higher than in April 2010.

Truecar thinks that new light vehicle sales in the U.S. (including fleet) will be 1,145,209 units in April, up 16.6 percent from April 2010.

Edmunds is the most bullish of the augurs, expecting April new car sales  (including fleet sales) to be approximately 1,171,000 units, a 19.3 percent increase from April 2010.

Edmunds immediately rains on its parade: “As inventories rapidly deteriorate, April could be the last month that we’ll see strong sales numbers until late summer or early fall,” said Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “May and June are traditionally high-volume months, and with anticipated supply constraints — especially on the fuel-efficient vehicles that have been in higher demand with spiked gas prices — inventories will be exhausted further. The big unknown is how this market will adjust to supply restrictions, when demand has been the key problem for the past three years.”

Forecast by J.D.Power:

J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons

April 20111

March 2011

April 2010

New-vehicle retail sales

948,100 units
(16% higher than April 2010)2

978,471 units

790,469 units

Total vehicle sales

1,147,300 units
(13% higher than April 2010)

1,244,009 units

980,107 units

Retail SAAR

11.1 million units

10.7 million units

9.3 million units

Total SAAR

13.1 million units

13.1 million units

11.2 million units

Forecast by Truecar:

TrueCar Unit Sales Forecast
Manufacturer April 2011 Forecast % Change vs. March 2011 % Change vs. April 2010
Chrysler 114,298 -5.7% 19.4%
Ford 187,523 -11.7% 15.2%
GM 195,404 -5.4% 6.7%
Honda 124,933 -6.5% 9.9%
Hyundai/Kia 107,800 1.6% 45.6%
Nissan 97,162 -19.8% 52.4%
Toyota 160,087 -9.2% 1.2%
Industry 1,145,209 -8.1% 16.6%

Forecast by Edmunds:

Change from April 2010 (Adjusted for one more selling day) Change from April 2010 (Unadjusted for one more selling days) Change from March 2011 (Same number of selling days)
Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep)
Ford (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury)
GM (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn)
Honda (Acura, Honda)
Nissan (Infiniti, Nissan)
Toyota (Lexus, Scion, Toyota)
Industry Total



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China In March 2011: Up 5.36 Percent Sun, 10 Apr 2011 15:10:39 +0000

Beijing’s war on the ICE notwithstanding, auto sales in China rose by 5.36 percent in March. That is the headline from a Sunday afternoon press conference held by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). More than 60 journalists were poised to report that for the first time any of them could remember, the Chinese market did sink. But it went the other way. Still up.

In March, a total of 1,828,500 vehicles changed hands in China. For the first quarter, sales were 4,983,800 for an increase of 8.08 percent. (And not 4.98 percent, as AFP erroneously reports.) Production for the first quarter stands at 4,895,800 units for an increase of  7.48 percent.

Passenger vehicle sales still run at a healthy clip, up 6.52 percent in March to 1,347,600 units. For the first three quarters, passenger vehicle sales are up 9.07 percent. (All percentages compared to same period in the previous year.)

Dong Yang, executive vice president and secretary-general of the CAAM, blamed the slower growth rates on the oil price hike, the expiration of tax incentives, auto purchase restrictions in cities like Beijing, and lastly the Japanese earthquakes.

In my humble opinion, the market is simply taking a breather after the record 32 percent run-up to more than 18 million units in 2010. There was a pull-forward effect in the sub 1.6 L class, which still dominates the market. This effect needs to be digested. I had expected a slight decline in Q1. The 18 million Chinese market is intact and it looks like 20 million by year’s end.

What may be in need of service is our patent pending TTAC Chinese market sales oracle. In March, GM China’s sales rose only 1.9 percent across all joint ventures, under-performing the market.  But let’s give our oracle a break: For the first quarter, GM China’s sales were up 10 percent, whereas the market rose 9 percent. The oracle is doing alright. A little oil, and it will be fine.

In related news and pursuant to our yesterday’s story on the Chinese license plate roulette, Xinhua reports today that “a total of 491,671 people in Beijing had applied for the monthly lottery of 17,600 license plates for April, which means only one out of 28 will turn out to be winners.” 111,728 new applicants mix in with the luckless from the previous months. If this trend continues, in June your chances of winning a Straight Up in roulette will be better than your odds of winning a license plate in Beijing.




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As Goes GM, So Goes China. Where Do They Go? Sat, 02 Apr 2011 16:59:09 +0000

In the (OMG) 7 years I have lived and worked in China by now, I have learned not to take the first two months of the year all too seriously. After all, according to the Chinese calendar, the first two months mostly belong to the old year. Chinese New Year  is some time in late January or early February, depending on the inscrutable lunar calendar. The nearly month long festivities mess up sales, and make comparisons pretty much useless. Confucius say: “Only the stupidest of men make predictions based on January sales.”

March is a different matter.  It’s the first “regular” month of the new year. Everybody is waiting for March sales results in China. We’ll have to wait at least a week or so until the CAAM is done tabulating the sales of the 60 to 120 automakers in China (even that number remains shrouded in mystery.) But there is our trusted indicator: GM China.

GM reports “new domestic sales records for the month of March and the first quarter of the year.”  The real numbers are less dramatic than the headline.  In the first quarter of the year (according to the Western calendar),  GM sales in China rose to 685,583 units, up 10.0 percent from a breathtaking first quarter in 2010. Confucius say: “When looking at growth numbers, always look at the prior year period first.”

GM China’s growth rate in March was … wait a minute, GM’s press release abandons the time-pressed journo on that one, banking (not without reason) on the laziness and inability to calculate percentages. Oh, well. Off to the archives. March 2010 sales were 230,048 units. GM China’s March 2011 sales totaled 233,014 units. According to TTAC’s abacus, that’s a growth of a whopping 1.29 percent. No wonder that’s being kept under wraps.

No abacus needed for “GM’s flagship joint venture, Shanghai GM.” According to the press release, it “sold 99,589 vehicles in China in March, an increase of 14.5 percent year on year and a record for the month.”

Moving on to “SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM’s mini-commercial vehicle joint venture,” the release makes us work again. It only discloses “domestic sales of 125,247 vehicles in March.” No percentages. Off to the dusty archives we go. In March 2010, Wuling had sales of 129,489 units. Our abacus calls that a loss of 3.28 percent. No wonder they tried to hide THAT.

GM China’s 2011 March, compared to the March of last year

Mar-10 Mar-11 Growth
GM Overall 230,048 233,014 1.3%
Shanghai GM 86,967 99,589 14.5%
SAIC-GM-Wuling 129,489 125,247 -3.3%
Buick 47,533 55,025 15.8%
Chevrolet 46,139 49,234 6.7%
Cadillac 1413 2,030 43.7%

As goes GM, so goes the Chinese nation. In February, GM was up 5.8 percent, and the overall market was up 4.57 percent.  Looking at the new GM numbers, the overall market might show zero growth, or even a small decline for March.

GM’s losses at Wuling presage losses in the small displacement market, which is dominated by Chinese brands. GM’s gains in the upper segments presage a healthy future for the larger displacement joint venture makes.

In that vein, Toyota just announced (via Reuters) that its sales in China rose 37.4 percent in March to 84,000 units, and 16.3 percent in the first quarter to 208,000 units. Don’t think Toyota is insignificant in the Chinese market. As brands go, Toyota is #3 behind Volkswagen and Hyundai, says J.D. Power in their monthly Executive Summary. Then comes Nissan in #4, followed by Chevrolet and Buick in #5 and #6. Let’s see what the other majors report within the next few days, and we will have a pretty good grip on the market.

If the overall Chinese market comes in with only a tiny gain or a slight loss, undoubtedly the end of the huge Chinese growth will be announced. Confucius say: “Those who get ahead of themselves will stumble in their own footsteps.” Once the pull forward effect that had brought huge gains last November, and December has worked itself out of the market, China will be back in the double digits, albeit low double digits. Keep in mind: 18.06 million last year plus a sedate 15 percent growth would mean nearly 21 million this year.

J.D. Power’s “forecast for this year and the following years remains unchanged as we believe China’s economy will continue to develop and the strong demand in the inland cities will continue.” The Shanghai based firm thinks that “strong momentum will continue and double-digit growth is still expected.”

In a way, that good forecast is not good for China. As J.D. Power’s data show, the Chinese market is highly fractionalized.  20 brands make for 67.3 percent of the passenger vehicle market. Volkswagen, itself spread across two joint ventures, holds the top spot with 12.8 percent.  A large pack of the following field has between 5 and 6 percent market share. 32.7 percent of the market are spread across a huge number of largely unknown automakers. The size of this number is equally unknown.

What China needs is a drastic treatment of six months of double digit losses, which would cause a surrender of the smaller players and will lead to 10 or 15 larger and more competitive players. However, these six months of double digit losses are nowhere near on the horizon.

J.D. Power: China’s leading passenger vehicle brands

Feb Growth YTD Growth YTD Share
1 Volkswagen 102,090 27% 276,137 37% 12.8%
2 Hyundai 53,252 37% 129,430 23% 6.0%
3 Toyota 47,495 -19% 124,286 -5% 5.8%
4 Nissan 45,350 10% 122,702 20% 5.7%
5 Chevrolet 44,122 10% 112,952 25% 5.2%
6 Buick 40,304 46% 110,667 48% 5.1%
7 Honda 41,365 -6% 107,071 4% 5.0%
8 Chery 30,110 -8% 103,575 15% 4.8%
9 BYD 26,521 -22% 78,575 -18% 3.6%
10 Kia 26,139 5% 67,349 11% 3.1%
11 Great Wall 22,373 23% 61,699 47% 2.9%
12 FAW 17,791 4% 57,156 14% 2.7%
13 Suzuki 25,340 4% 56,806 0% 2.6%
14 Ford 19,192 -1% 51,170 5% 2.4%
15 Chana 21,594 31% 47,024 22% 2.2%
16 JAC 16,070 14% 46,117 19% 2.1%
17 Skoda 16,865 45% 42,180 45% 2.0%
18 Geely 15,824 -19% 41,098 -16% 1.9%
19 Citroen 16,043 5% 40,492 0% 1.9%
20 Mazda 12,363 -18% 33,395 -7% 1.6%
Total Passenger Vehicles 813,753 9% 2,153,405 16% 67.3%

J.D. Power: China’s leading commercial vehicle brands

Feb Growth YTD Growth YTD Share
1 Wuling 95,499 -4% 220,011 3% 24.5%
2 Chana 69,408 -24% 160,013 -17% 17.8%
3 Dongfeng 47,363 41% 109,565 60% 12.2%
4 Foton 39,088 24% 81,767 10% 9.1%
5 Jinbei 18,730 27% 38,439 12% 4.3%
6 JAC 16,811 14% 37,795 13% 4.2%
7 Hafei 9,176 -40% 23,617 -33% 2.6%
8 JMC 8,906 39% 23,324 37% 2.6%
9 FAW 12,346 -9% 23,064 -32% 2.6%
10 Great Wall 7,967 35% 19,349 49% 2.2%
Total Commercial Vehicles 395,551 1% 899,480 3% 32.7%

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J.D. Power Predicts Strong March, Sees Production Trouble Ahead Thu, 24 Mar 2011 15:51:57 +0000

J.D. Power sees a strong March in its crystal ball, powered by real-time transaction data of 8,600 retail franchises throughout the United States. However growth is expected to be much more sedate than the 27 percent jump in February.

In its March forecast, J.D. Power expects total light-vehicle sales for March to come in at 1,205,200 units, 9 percent higher than in March 2010. Fleet sales in March are expected to decrease to 213,000 units, “based on the expectations that Japanese manufacturers will reduce fleet sales and channel that volume to the retail market, due to concerns about inventory shortages.”  J.D. Power projects the March SAAR at 12.7 million units. They keep their forecast for total vehicle sales at 13 million units, up 13 percent from 2010.

Power sees near-term production to be impacted by parts shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami crisis in Japan. “With the uncertainty remaining high about the full extent of the parts supply situation, North American production could be impacted in the weeks to come,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power. “However, our 2011 production forecast remains at 12.9 million units, as we expect any lost volume would be made up later in the year.”

J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons

March 20111 February 2011 March 2010
New-vehicle retail sales 991,900 units
(12% higher than March 2010)2
785,698 units 849,735 units
Total vehicle sales 1,205,200 units
(9% higher than March 2010)
991,576 units 1,064,072 units
Retail SAAR 10.9 million units 11.1 million units 9.3 million units
Total SAAR 12.7 million units 13.4 million units 11.7 million units
1Figures cited for March 2011 are forecasted based on the first 17 selling days of the month.
The percentage change is adjusted based on the number of selling days (27 days vs. 26 days one year ago).
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China In February 2011: Vehicle Sales Up 4.57 Percent Wed, 09 Mar 2011 09:44:50 +0000

In a press conference in the late Chinese afternoon, China’s CAAM announced its official February sales numbers. The Middle Kingdom kept face and avoided a loss.

China’s vehicle sales rose 4.57 percent in February from a year earlier to 1.26 million units.

Passenger vehicle sales rose 2.57 percent to 967,200 units. This contradicts a previous release by the China Passenger Car Association that had the passenger vehicle market decline by 0.4 percent to 880,027 in February.

Confusing and contradicting stats are par for the course in China. It seems like the China Passenger Car Association does not count SUVs. If you want to be really shocked and confused, read China’s state-owned newswire Xinhua. They headline: “China’s February auto sales down 33 percent.” Compared to January. Same month comparisons are withheld.

According to the CAAM, total vehicle sales in China rose 9.71 percent during the January-February period to 3.16 million units. Passenger vehicle sales (as defined by the CAAM) totaled 2.5 million units in the first two months of the year, up 10.5 percent. Looking at two months instead of one gives a better picture at the beginning of the year. The lunar calendar favored January this year and penalized February.

Industry observers maintain that the Chinese market will grow between 10 and 15 percent this year.

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China’s February Sales: Down For A Change? Mon, 07 Mar 2011 13:51:35 +0000

The Chinese passenger car market did something highly unusual in February: It declined. If the data of the usually not highly reliable China Passenger Car Association is to be believed, that is. They e-mailed to Automotive News [sub] that February 2011 passenger car sales were a minuscule 0.4 percent below February 2010 levels.

As mentioned before, a decline in February would not surprise us. The reasons are not the oft-cited raise of the sales tax or the raise of gasoline prices. It’s something much simpler: China had been closed for most of February in observance of the Chinese New Year. Seasonally, China gets a spurt of sales before the holidays, and in January, total sales rose 13.81 percent to 1.894 million units.

Anyway, the China Passenger Car Association does not issue the official number. That one comes from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), and they will report by this week’s end. Their number includes all vehicles. It could even be lower, because the holiday season is not a good season for commercial vehicles. GM China has just been hit by this phenomenon, their sales of Wuling vans dropped 8.3 percent in February.

Honda’s China sales in February were down 6.5 percent, Reuters says.

China’s largest carmaker SAIC reports sales of  283,382 units for February, up 14.3 percent from a year earlier.

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Germany In February 2011: New Car Sales Up 15.2 Percent Thu, 03 Mar 2011 07:45:07 +0000

Germany is busy digging itself out of a – mostly mathematical – hole.  According to data released by Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt, registrations in February were up 15.2 percent compared to February 2010. The graph above tells a different story.

The Abwrackprämien (German for “cash for clunker”) program of 2009 had driven car sales to heights never seen before in Germany (blue line).  The program had a small pull forward effect, but not by much: Eligible were cars 9 years or older. Owners of these cars usually don’t buy new in Germany.  The double digit “losses” of 2010 (red line) were mostly the effects of comparisons with the pornographic numbers of 2009.  Now, the market is basically coming back to normal (green line).

Germans are sick of frugality and splurge again. Subcompacts (-12.3 percent) are out of favor. Minivans and luxobarges register increases of nearly 50percent. SUVs are up nearly 60 percent.

All data in their German detail are available for download here.

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China In February: GM Up A Little, Toyota Down A Little Wed, 02 Mar 2011 09:45:59 +0000

More and more journos wish China would become like America. As in America of 2008: Pop, crash, fizzle. The current meme is that the 18 plus million car sales can’t possibly go on and that the Chinese car market will ape America and will pop, crash and fizzle.

The problem is: The Chinese car market doesn’t seem to be able to read. It just doesn’t want to roll over. It had its big chance last month. China had been closed most of February in observance of the Chinese New Year. Most observers (including myself) had expected minus signs in front of the growth number for February.

First sales numbers are coming if for February, and there are good news and bad news.

The good news is that GM China set another sales record for February. GM and its Chinese joint ventures sold 184,498 vehicles in February, a number never seen before. The growth however amounts to only 5.8 percent.

Buick sales rose 45.9 percent to 40,250 units. Chevrolet sales in rose 5.7 percent to 42,358 units. Cadillac sales jumped 121.1 percent to 1,992 units.  Then why only 5.8 percent growth?

GM is now paying the price for adding Wuling minivehicles to their count. Wuling sold 101,133 of the tiny vans last month. GM doesn’t break out a percentage comparison with February of 2010, banking on lazy journos. Too bad, if someone is desperate for a downdraft in sales, here they could be found. Wuling sold  110,315  units in February 2010. We call that a decline of 8.3 percent. And with those vans for midgets making up more than half of GM’s Chinese volume, the decline hurts. But then, an increase of 5.8 percent is better than …

… a decrease 2.8 percent. This is how Toyota closed out their February in China. Sales are down to 44,100 vehicles, The Nikkei [sub] reports. Toyota’s explanation? The same I gave you above: According to Toyota spokesman Hitoshi Yokoyama, the decline in sales in February was partly the result of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, which fell at the start of the month.

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America In February 2011: Return Of The Buyers, Bigtime Tue, 01 Mar 2011 17:19:15 +0000

“The consumer is back to the showrooms,” said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital to the Los Angeles Times. No kidding. The consumer is back with a vengeance. February new cars sales were up  27 percent on the year. The world’s two biggest automakers report sales increases we thought only possible in China.

GM reports that February sale rose 45.8 percent compared with a year earlier to 207,028 vehicles.

General Motors total sales in the United States rose 49 percent to 207,028 units in February. The number was actually dragged down by fleet sales. Retail sales rose 70 percent – the highest year-over-year gain in the company’s history. Fleet sales for GM’s four brands were 43,900 for the month, a 2-percent increase for the month, with sales to rental fleets down 5 percent.

A similar, but not as pronounced picture at Ford. Retail sales increased 23 percent. Ford hasn’t broken out fleet sales yet, but they appear to be similarly tepid. Ford’s total February sales, including sales to fleet customers, were 156,626, up 14 percent.

Chrysler’s sales increased a sedate 13 percent. Fleet sales are not available yet, but it is a fair assumption that they are likewise down.  “Our retail sales were up substantially in February, proof positive that the 16 all-new or significantly-refreshed models we launched during 2010 are resonating with consumers,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales.

Toyota surprised delivering sales performance in the same league as GM. Toyota’s U.S.  sales were up 41.8 percent to 141,846 units. Toyota branded cars are up 48.5 percent to 128,032 units. Lexus sales are flat from last February.

Analysts had predicted February total car sales to rise 20 percent.

U.S. Car and Light-Truck Sales, Feb. 2011

Complete table

Automaker Feb. 2011 Feb. 2010 Pct. chng. 2 month
2 month
Pct. chng.
BMW Group 19,963 18,013 11% 38,663 33,465 16%
BMW division 16,416 15,100 9% 32,321 28,263 14%
Mini 3,503 2,871 22% 6,254 5,118 22%
Rolls-Royce 44 42 5% 88 84 5%
Chrysler Group LLC 95,102 84,449 13% 165,220 141,592 17%
Chrysler Division 12,628 16,925 –25% 22,333 27,368 –18%
Dodge 33,561 32,975 2% 57,875 52,928 9%
Dodge/Ram 53,855 44,185 22% 91,189 75,170 21%
Jeep 28,619 23,339 23% 51,698 39,054 32%
Ram 20,294 11,210 81% 33,314 22,242 50%
Daimler AG 16,665 15,834 5% 34,301 31,277 10%
Maybach 5 6 –17% 10 12 –17%
Mercedes-Benz 16,176 15,386 5% 33,449 30,545 10%
Smart USA 484 442 10% 842 720 17%
Ford Motor Co. 156,232 142,006 10% 283,213 258,283 10%
Ford division 150,284 123,228 22% 271,459 222,859 22%
Ford/Lincoln/Mercury 156,232 137,365 14% 283,213 249,514 14%
Lincoln 5,948 6,681 –11% 11,506 13,717 –16%
Mercury 7,456 –100% 248 12,938 –98%
Volvo 4,641 –100% 8,769 –100%
General Motors 207,028 141,535 46% 385,925 287,850 34%
Buick 15,807 9,121 73% 29,076 19,182 52%
Cadillac 15,768 9,273 70% 28,349 17,713 60%
Chevrolet 142,919 99,797 43% 268,308 204,896 31%
GMC 32,534 20,242 61% 60,192 41,230 46%
Hummer 296 –100% 561 –100%
Pontiac 84 –100% 473 –100%
Saab 97 –100% 608 –100%
Saturn 2,625 –100% 3,187 –100%
Honda (American) 98,059 80,671 22% 174,328 148,150 18%
Acura 10,796 8,939 21% 18,757 16,071 17%
Honda Division 87,263 71,732 22% 155,571 132,079 18%
Hyundai Group 76,339 58,056 32% 141,342 110,681 28%
Hyundai division 43,533 34,004 28% 80,747 64,507 25%
Kia 32,806 24,052 36% 60,595 46,174 31%
Jaguar Land Rover 3,247 2,793 16% 6,453 5,382 20%
Jaguar 692 761 –9% 1,627 1,392 17%
Land Rover 2,555 2,032 26% 4,826 3,990 21%
Maserati 159 104 53% 273 205 33%
Mazda 19,387 17,054 14% 33,654 32,748 3%
Mitsubishi 6,893 4,019 72% 12,607 8,189 54%
Nissan 92,370 70,189 32% 164,217 132,761 24%
Infiniti 9,144 7,041 30% 16,549 13,752 20%
Nissan Division 83,226 63,148 32% 147,668 119,009 24%
Porsche 2,019 1,531 32% 4,419 3,317 33%
Saab Cars North America 546 –% 1,204 –%
Subaru 21,683 18,098 20% 40,541 33,709 20%
Suzuki 1,643 1,375 20% 4,205 3,415 23%
Toyota 141,846 100,027 42% 257,702 198,823 30%
Lexus 13,814 13,787 0% 26,674 29,304 –9%
Scion 3,944 3,027 30% 7,219 6,062 19%
Toyota division 124,088 83,213 49% 223,809 163,457 37%
Toyota/Scion 128,032 86,240 49% 231,028 169,519 36%
Volkswagen 29,315 24,427 20% 55,610 49,041 13%
Audi 7,753 6,216 25% 15,565 12,726 22%
Bentley 101 95 6% 183 180 2%
VW division 21,461 18,116 19% 39,862 36,135 10%
Volvo Cars North America 4,795 –% 9,071 –%
Other (estimate) 244 241 1% 488 469 4%
TOTAL 993,535 780,422 27% 1,813,436 1,479,357 23%

Data courtesy Automotive News [sub]

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Japan In February 2011: Boro-Boro Tue, 01 Mar 2011 13:49:13 +0000

It’s that time of the month again. Super-efficient Japan  traditionally is first out of the gate with previous month sales numbers. Lately, there have been some who regret that efficiency. For the sixth straight month in a row, the Japanese new car market is tired, down, worn-out.

Sales of new cars in February fell 14.3 percent on the year to 252,634 vehicles, excluding minivehicles, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association told The Nikkei [sub] today.

Including minivehicles, the market was down 12.4 percent in February to 401,292 vehicles, Reuters reports.

Toyota saw a much steeper drop of 21.3 percent, excluding sales at Daihatsu (minivehicles) and Hino (commercial vehicles), as well as Lexus.

Sales at Honda underperformed the market only slightly with a drop of 16.1 percent.

Nissan gained share of the dwindling Japanese market by shrinking only 7.8 percent.

If you know Japanese, all data in their misery can be downloaded here. The Excel spreadsheet is here.

Now what does boro-boro mean?

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February Sales Seen Up Around 20 Percent Sun, 27 Feb 2011 11:58:43 +0000

Three usually reliable research organizations agree: When automakers release February sales this coming week, they will be strong. Analysts see a sales increase of about 20 percent, and a SAAR in the 12 million territory.

  • First out of the gate was J.D. Power, which gathers real-time transaction data from more than 8,900 retail franchisees throughout the United States. On February 17, they predicted total light-vehicle sales for February are in the neighborhood of  913,000 units, which would represent a 17 percent gain over February 2010. They expect a total SAAR of 12.6 million units.
  • A week later, Truecar prognosticated similar numbers. They see light vehicle sales in the U.S. to come in at 924,516 units, up 19 percent from February 2010. Their SAAR predictor says 12.5 million units.
  • A day later, Edmunds predicted even better  numbers: 937,000 units, up 20.1 percent from February 2010, and a SAAR of 12.64 million.

All say that February started slow, but gained momentum after President’s day and after large parts of the U.S. dug out from a thick blanket of snow.

On the incentive front, now is the time to get deals. Here is Truecar’s incentive spending forecast:

Incentive Spending Forecast


Feb. 2011 Incentives

Change vs. Jan. 2011

Change vs. Feb. 2010

Total Spending








































$ 2,504,025,863

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Finally, The Official Number For China In January 2011: Up 13.81 Percent Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:13:16 +0000

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers finally has returned from the Chinese New Year festivities and got around to counting the real official sales number for China in January 2011. China’s auto sales in January rose 13.81 percent to 1.894 million units. Passenger vehicles did not rise 12.6 percent to 965,238 units in January, as prematurely reported by the Associated Press. Passenger vehicle sales in China rose 16.17 percent to 1.529 million units last month.

Discard the myriad of previously reported sales numbers, up 13.81 percent to 1.894 million units is the official number to use.

China is definitely taking a breather after sales rose 32.37 percent in 2010 to 18,061,900 vehicles. However, even if Chinese auto sales raise “only” 15 percent this year, the high base would bring the total to nearly 21 million cars this year, nearly double of what Americans bought last year. Expect February numbers look really bad in China. Due to Chinese New Year, February has a full sales week less than last year, whereas January had a week more.

Despite the sedate growth, January was another record month. Never in recorded history did nearly 1.9 million cars change hands in a single month. Not in China, and probably not anywhere in the world either

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Auto Industry Sets New World Record In 2010. Will Do It Again In 2011 Tue, 15 Feb 2011 15:31:03 +0000

While we were focused on the U.S. market in 2010 and were happy that it awoke from the dead and went above 10 million, the world quietly left carmageddon behind itself and set a new record: 72 million light-vehicles were sold worldwide in 2010, a number never seen before, says J.D. Power. For this year, the Westlake Village research group expects another world record. However, most of this record was not and will not be produced where most of our readership lives.

J.D. Power projects global new light-vehicle sales to reach record setting 76.5 million units in 2011. This would be 6 percent higher than the 2010 total. The previous record of 70 million units was established in 2007.

For the first time, emerging auto markets buy more cars than the established markets. Emerging markets accounted for 51 percent of the global light-vehicle sales in 2010, a dramatic shift that is expected to continue and to accelerate.

J.D.Power is the only research institute that reliably tracks the worldwide equivalents of the U.S. light-vehicle count. This is not an easy chore. Let’s have a look at their data. I would bookmark this page.

2010 Light-Vehicle Sales Recap

  • U.S.: 11.6 million light vehicles sold in 2010, up 11 percent
  • Canada: 1.6 million light vehicles sold in 2010, up 7 percent
  • Europe: 18.2 million light vehicles sold in 2010, down 4 percent
  • China: 17.2 light vehicles sold in 2010, up 30 percent

Kudos to J.D. Power for being first to supply us with numbers for the world, especially for China that are comparable with the U.S. light-vehicle count. Shame on Associated Press for perpetrating crime with numbers.

Again, TTAC’s position is that in absence of hard light-vehicle data, the total of all automobiles should be taken. The 18.06 million total of all vehicles sold in China is much closer to the 17.2 million light-vehicle count, which is light-years apart from the 13.8 million “passenger vehicles” flogged by the AP and interested media outlets.

2011 Light-Vehicle Sales Outlook

  • Emerging markets expand their 51 percent share of total light-vehicle sales to 53 percent.
  • U.S. will see higher sales. Forecast: 13 million units, up 12 percent
  • Western Europe light-vehicle sales expected to be flat. Forecast: 14.2 million units, down 2 percent.
  • Eastern Europe light-vehicle sales expected to uptick. Forecast: 3.9 million units, up 4 percent.
  • Chinese light-vehicle sales expected to continue their growth at a slower pace. Forecast: More than 19 million units, up 11percent.
  • Japanese light-vehicle sales expected to shrink 9 percent to 4.4 million.
  • India is expected to see light-vehicle sales grow by 17 percent to  3.2 million units.
  • Brazil’s light-vehicle sales are forecast to rise by 8 percent to 3.7 million.
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Chinese Car Sales: The Big Get Bigger, The Small Not So Much Tue, 15 Feb 2011 09:54:16 +0000

More Chinese sales numbers for January are coming in as China slowly begins to return from the Chinese New Year holidays. We are keeping a wary eye on the January numbers. They are seen as an indicator for the whole year. Most of the world’s auto industry relies on China for growth and volume. A marked slowdown could have serious consequences.

  • Chery reports an increase of 17.52 percent over last January with 86,299 units sold. However, these are global numbers. 10,505 units were exported, up 100 percent from the previous January.
  • Geely’s sales rose only 4 percent compared to January of 2010. 45,634 units were sold. That number is down 18.7 percent from the record level achieved in December. Geely is very strong in the sub 1.6 liter segment, profited a lot from the lowered taxes for this segment and got it on the nose when the subsidies were withdrawn.
  • Nissan’s sales jumped 32.6 percent on the year to 113,000 units in China last month.
  • Major Chinese players such as GM and Volkswagen already had reported strong growth in January. Luxury sales were especially hot.
  • Yesterday, the China Passenger Car Association reported that sales of passenger cars rose 12.6 percent to 965,238 units in January. However, this is only part of the count. The final official number will be announced by the CAAM. We await these data for Friday.

Looking over the data, it appears that there was a pull-forward effect in the sub 1.6 liter segment, where Chinese homegrown brands are strong. The bigger bore segments, domain of the joint ventures with foreign makers, appear unaffected.

GM CEO Daniel Akerson is in Beijing today. He is banking on China’s health. He announced that GM will add over 20 new and upgraded models in China in the next two years. “China is clearly a crown jewel in the GM universe,” Akerson told the assembled press while Reuters was taking notes. “China is a unique market sitting in what I think is the highest growth area in the world for the next 10, 20, 30 years.”

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Chinese Auto Sales: The AP Does It Again Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:58:50 +0000

The China Passenger Car Association reports that sales of passenger cars rose 12.6 percent to 965,238 units in January, says the Associated Press. However, as explained in my small lecture on the use and abuse of auto industry statistics, this is not the number we are waiting for. We are waiting for the sales of all motorvehicles in China with 4 wheels and over, also known as “automobile sales.”

The Associated Press is one of the main perpetrators of numerical mis-information when it comes to Chinese auto sales, and a repeat offender. It insists on publishing the number of passenger cars only, as in “Chinese bought 13.7 million passenger vehicles last year” in the current article. The number to watch is the one for all types. That number was 18.06 million last year in China. If we would do the same to the U.S. as what AP does to China, sales would suddenly drop by half, because no trucks and SUVs would be counted.

The number for all motor vehicles in China with 4 wheels and over is being published by the CAAM, and they haven’t released it yet.

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Chinese Car Sales: Bubble? What Bubble? Fri, 11 Feb 2011 09:01:32 +0000

China’s prognosticated car bubble does not appear to experience its prognosticated burst. One by one, Chinese sales numbers for January are coming in, and none of them are bad.

According to The Nikkei [sub] Ford’s sales in China rose 20 percent in January to a record 53,340 units, driven mostly by demand for the Ford Focus.

Compared to GM China ( up  22.3  percent to 268,071 units in January) and Volkswagen (up 29.4 percent to 187,700 units in January), Ford is relatively small in China, but impressive growth is impressive growth.

Speaking small but impressive:

Daimler sold a total of 15,330 Mercedes-Benz cars in January in China, up 89 percent. Sales of the (imported) S-Class more than doubled in January from a year earlier to 2,640 units. Sales of the R-Class SUV (likewise imported – from Alabama and Mexico) more than tripled to 1,070 units, Dow Jones writes (via NASDAQ.)

BMW is no slouch either:  BMW sold  21,641 units in China in January, up 70.4 percent from January 2010 sales, Gasgoo reports.

The official total will arrive after China reopens after the Chinese New Year holidays.

The end of the world prophets may have better luck next month, aided by the vagaries of the Chinese lunar calendar: Last year, the new year festivities started in the last week of January, and by mid February, things went slowly back to normal. This year, the holidays started on February 2nd, and China will for all intents and purposes remain closed for all of February. China doesn’t have fancy SAAR numbers that are adjusted for selling days. The extra selling week helped January, but will wreak havoc with February numbers.

However, the pre-holiday sales are taken as an omen for the rest of the year, and the omen appears to be in a gregarious mood.

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January Surprise: GM China Up 22.3 Percent, Sub 1.6 Liter Segment Holds Wed, 09 Feb 2011 14:39:46 +0000

Less than two weeks ago, GM China hinted that their sales may have risen more than 20 percent in January. This was seen as a good omen, because most pundits (except this one) had predicted a miserable January for China. GM China released its numbers today, and they over delivered. GM China reports a record month in January.

GM sold 268,071 units across its Chinese joint ventures in January. That’s an increase of 22.3 percent compared to the wild January of 2010. It also broke GM’s previous monthly sales record of 230,038 vehicles set in March 2010.

Shanghai GM’s sales reached 131,944 units, a whopping increase of 46.3 percent from January 2010. Chinese sales of SAIC-GM-Wuling’s family of mini-vehicles remain sedate and rose only 10.6 percent to 132,658 units. FAW-GM, GM’s light-duty commercial vehicle joint venture, sold 3,334 vehicles in China.

The strong January numbers of GM and Volkswagen augur well for continued growth of the Chinese market. The numbers of Wuling are another  positive indicator. Wuling is very big in the sub 1.6 liter segment and profited a lot from past government subsidies that had been withdrawn as 2010 came to an end.  Under these circumstances, even the mild growth of Wuling is nothing short of a miracle. All prognoses were that this segment would collapse in the first quarters of 2011. That it powers on after the subsidies were withdrawn is testament to the vigor of the Chinese market.

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The Sky Over China Is Not Falling: GM January Sales Up 20 percent Fri, 28 Jan 2011 20:04:11 +0000

The oft predicted collapse of the Chinese market does not seem to happen. GM is the canary in the Chinese coalmine, and January, the month before the Lunar New Year festivities, is a key selling month. So goes GM, so goes China, so goes January, so goes the year. This time, January was especially critical: Many had predicted that the cancellation of tax incentives for sub 1.6 liter cars, that went in effect on January 1, would have serious pull-forward repercussions. Not as far as GM is concerned.

GM China sold roughly 20 percent more vehicles in January 2011 than in January 2010, Terry Johnsson, vice president for GM’s China operations, told Reuters. “Even though the December numbers were really high because of the big push before the incentives disappeared, January is still running at an incredible level,” Johnsson said.

This is even more incredible because January 2010 had been an absolutely mind-blowing month in China. Sales in last year’s January had jumped 126 percent, despite a sales week missing, because the holidays had started in the last week of the month. This year, they start this coming weekend.

One possible fly in the ointment: GM China’s model mix is not particularly sub 1.6 liter heavy. The offerings of the Wuling joint venture are. If Johnsson referred to GM China including Wuling, then 20 percent are a good omen. If he is only referring to the GM/SAIC joint venture, then the total market could react very differently than the usually reliable leading indicator GM China. But anyway, as predicted by TTAC, the sky in China appears to hold and is not falling at all.

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Hyundai 4th Largest Automaker, Overtakes Ford Fri, 28 Jan 2011 12:35:55 +0000

According to data published today by Ford, the company sold 5,313,000 units worldwide “to wholesale” (i.e. out of the door.), up 447,000 units or 9.19 percent. With Volvo eliminated, the growth was 771,000 units. Record sales in the U.S.A. and Asia were partially offset by lower sales in Europe. Ford is not strong enough in China to profit like its competitors that are strong in China. One of these competitors is Hyundai.

According to TTAC data, the Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai and Kia) booked global sales of 5,744,018 units in 2010. With these numbers, Hyundai Motor Group moves up into the #4 spot, Ford slips down to #5.

Top 5 Automakers 2010
Rank Name Production
1 Toyota Group 8,557,351
2 General Motors Group 8,389,769
3 Volkswagen Group 7,140,000
4 Hyundai Motor Group 5,744,018
5 Ford 5,313,000

Ford had held the #3 position until 2006, when Ford was overtaken by the Volkswagen Group. A year before, Hyundai-Kia was in the #9 position. From 2006-2008, Hyundai and Kia reported separately, in 2009, Hyundai and Kia reported as a group again and were in the #4 slot.

The performance of Hyundai, which 10 years ago still was a target of ridicule, a company in a small country of 48 million, deserves respect.

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