Chinese Car Exports Up. From The Dead

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
chinese car exports up from the dead

Since I’ve been writing for TTAC, I have kept my eyes on exports from China, which according to popular wisdom, will take over the world. The truth about Chinese car exports is that they aren’t happening in the grand scheme of things. Keep that in mind when you will hear reports about skyrocketing Chinese exports.

China’s auto exports rose 76.79 percent from a year earlier to 384,300 units in the January-September period of 2010, says the Xinmin Evening News ( via Gasgoo), citing data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). 196,600 passenger vehicles and 187,700 commercial vehicles were exported.

Big HOWEVER: While China became the world’s largest car market in 2009, its exports, as little as they were, had taken a dive with the rest of the world. In all of 2008, China had exported 680,700 cars. In 2009, car exports had dropped by 46 percent to 369,600 units. In the same year, China imported 420,800 units. The value of the imports (usually more upscale models) was $15.3b, beating exports 3:1. This year, imports to China are beating exports by an even wider margin. With 384,300 units exported in the first nine month, China is far off 2008 export levels. The truth about Chinese car exports: They are slowly coming back, but aren’t what they used to be. And they never were much.

Possibly, this will change. Ironically, with the help of foreign joint venture partners. In the lead: GM.

Join the conversation
  • HerrKaLeun HerrKaLeun on Oct 28, 2010

    I would think with more (and better) Chinese production imports will shrink first closing the deficit. since Chinese demand will be so high, they won't really be able to export much for a while.

  • L'avventura L'avventura on Oct 28, 2010

    China would be an ideal production center for automobiles for export to the rest of Asia; large capacity, excellent infrastructure, large domestic market to support production, etc. But that hasn't happened and isn't likely to happen in the near future. China would benefit from free trade agreements that would make Chinese-made cars less restrictive to sell overseas, a massive East Asia Free trade block has been actively discussed but the recent political difficulties will make it near impossible to find consensus over in the near future. For many producers the biggest issue is the "China risk", that political & labor issues would impede supply of products from foreign factories in China. China's use of economic weapons, such as seen in the rare earth metal incident, factory shut downs due to labor strikes, increasing wages, and unpredictable government make China risky for high-value, supply-chain-sensitive products like automobiles. Especially if production has to be coordinated with a JV. There is also the negative association of 'made in China' in most developed nations. For GM to sell a Chinese-made car in the US is a large political risk, and something the UAW would make a lot of noise over. Chinese automotive exports would be ideal for cars they already produce, cars that are also sold in China, they won't be making GMC Sierras in China. So if China were to export Chinese made cars it would be for low-margin cars like the Aveo (but that too isn't likely due to the UAW deal). Chinese car exports, for the time being, will primarily exported to developing nations. I've said it before, but China really needs to keep an eye out on South East Asia, most of the auto export spoils seem to be going to them. But it all may be irrelevant, the money is IN China, not in exporting Chinese made cars.

  • Timotheus980 Timotheus980 on Oct 28, 2010

    Correct me if I'm wrong but my gut instinct is China's ravenous appetite for steel may be keeping the govt from encouraging the exporting of a largely steel based product. Especially when there seem to be so many willing buyers in the country to sell to and still keep the steel accessible in one form or another.