By on February 9, 2010

China’s passenger car sales in January skyrocketed an unbelievable 115.5 percent from a year earlier, China’s official scorekeeper, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said today. A total of 1.32m passenger cars were sold last month in China, compared with 610,600 units a year earlier. In December 2009, 1.1m units changed hands, Reuters reports. The January number is even more surprising as the China Passenger Car Association had originally figured that China’s passenger car sales rose 84 per cent in January. We compared the Reuters story with Xinhua, the official word on China, and Xinhua also says: “Passenger car sales were up 113.21 percent to 1.32 million units last month.”

Overall vehicle sales, including buses and trucks as well as cars, were even more amazing: A total of 1.66m units in January, up 126.3 percent from 735,500 units a year earlier. Keeping passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles apart is a frustrating exercise in China. Minivans for instance, and of course pickups, count as commercial vehicles.

“Demand remains strong in January as many people want to get a new car for themselves and for their loved ones before the Chinese New Year,” said Zhang Xin, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities. Chinese New Year, which officially starts on Feb. 14 this year and lasts a week, but unofficially lasts the whole month of February, is the biggest shopping season in China.

Number were slightly distorted. January 2009 had showed a decline of 7.76 percent because of the slowing economy, and because the begin of Chinese New Year fell into January last year.

By way of comparison, U.S. light vehicle sales (cars and trucks) totaled 698,990 in January  – that’s less than half of China’s vehicle sales in the same period.  In terms of “passenger vehicles,”  Americans bought 397,131 in January. The Chinese bought more than three times as many.

2009 auto sales in China were up 45 percent. China blew by the United States and became the world’s largest car market by a wide margin.  Analysts predicted more sedate growth rates of 10 to 15 percent in 2010, if only because of the higher comparative base in 2009. Chen Hong, president of SAIC, sees bigger gains, due largely to pent-up demand in smaller cities where cars are no longer a luxury item as wealth grows. Most of China’s automakers share his optimism and invest for a growth between 20 and 30 percent in 2010.

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6 Comments on “China in January: Up 115 Percent. Or 126 Percent...”

  • avatar

    So…what goes up must still come down, eventually….no? Or does it just remain in orbit?

    This reminds me of a great Tom Lehrer song, which I find particularly interesting on the learning Chinese part…maybe we all should….

    “Gather round while I sing you of Werner von Braun,
    a man whose allegience
    is ruled by expedience.
    Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown.
    “Hah, Nazi, schmazi” says Werner von Braun.
    Don’t say that he’s hypocritical.
    Say rather that he’s apolitical.
    “Once ze rockets are up, who cares where zay come down?
    Zat’s not my department” says Werner von Braun.
    Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
    but some say our attitude
    should be one of gratitude,
    like the widows and cripples in old London Town,
    who owe their large pensions to Werner von Braun.
    You too may be a big hero,
    once you’ve learnt to count backwards to zero.
    “In Eenglish or German I know how to count down,
    and I’m learning Chinese” says Werner von Braun.

  • avatar

    Considering that Lehrer wrote the song in the early 60s … amazing foresight.

    As far as trajectories go … the Chinese sales rocket has just begun to lift off. It has a ways to fly.

    Growth-wise, we’ll see less dramatic percentage increases from April 2010 on. Chinese sales turned around last April, and we’ll compare with higher and higher bases.

    Most depressing: Chinese bought more than double the vehicles Americans bought in January.

  • avatar

    It is like China is counting bicycles as motorcycle sales. Numbers aside, these are little sh*t boxes, some 5-8K a piece, I wouldn’t make apples to apples comparison on these numbers alone.

  • avatar

    Lawstud: China doesn’t count bicycles as motorcycles. And we are talking cars here.

    As for the alleged excrement boxes, kindly turn your attention to the list of bestselling sedans in China 2009. You will find many familiar names, except for the topselling BYD F3, a roomy, solid car, selling for around $11000 out of the door. #2 is the Buick Excelle. The Yuedong is an upmarket Elantra, because the Chinese demanded more from Hyundai, not less. You’ll find the Jetta, Elantra, Accord, Corolla, Camry. The Lavida is a roomy and well appointed VW, based on their PQ34 platform. In China, it is dubbed as the “Mini Phaeton.”

    Your sh*tboxes assertion is plain wrong, unless you want to say that a Buick Excelle is a sh*tbox. Sure, there are many small cars (a recent phenomenon.) There also are lots of small cars in Japan. And Europe. And increasingly, in the USA.

    Size does not matter. And as long as anything with 4 wheels and a motor counts as a unit (one car, one vote,) you will have to live with the statistics.

    • 0 avatar

      Ok they’re not 5-8K, I was exaggerating. You’re right they’re selling larger cars. I was making the inference the numbers alone doesn’t show the complete pictures since its what they’re selling. Yes China is ahead of the US in numbers alone, and by a lot.

      They are still excrement boxies, IMHO, because hitting a wall the passengers are surely going to sh*t themselves or become it. (for all I know though they maybe conquered physics and these cars in China can just bounce off each other.

    • 0 avatar

      Research by Youtube is a dangerous thing. It may result in permanent brain damage. I don’t know what Chinese car the Russians crashed here, but here is the all-American F150:

      The cars built by the joint ventures are built with foreign technology, according to foreign quality and safety standards. A Chinese Excelle is just as safe as an American Excelle. At least that’s what GM will swear.

      And we are discussing cars built here. Not cars destroyed. (China is a leader in that discipline also. No wonder, if you look at how they drive.)

      I know it’s sad to watch China outselling the U.S.A. 2:1 – get used to it. It will get worse.

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