China in January: Up 115 Percent. Or 126 Percent

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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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  • CUINCT CUINCT on Feb 09, 2010

    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.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Feb 10, 2010

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Feb 10, 2010

      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.

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.