China's Trade Imbalance: Imports Higher Than Exports

Again, China’s vaunted export machine received a black eye: China imported more cars in 2010 than it exported. Of the 18.27 million cars China produced in2010, a pittance of 2.98 percent left the country according to statistics released by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) via China Autoweb.

China exported 544,900 units in 2010. 282,900 of those were passenger cars, 261,900 were commercial vehicles. Total export value of the passenger vehicles was $1.66 billion, the dollar total of the commercial vehicles was $4.75 billion. That amounts to an average price of $5,868 per passenger car and $18,137 per commercial vehicle. This illustrates that only very low cost cars have some luck abroad. The higher value of commercial vehicles is skewed by heavy Chinese trucks and buses which see some success in 3rd world countries.

Here are the largest exporters:

Main Chinese Car Exporters 2010

CompanyUnitsChery92,000Changan65,500Great Wall55,400Dongfeng48,000BAIC37,300

These five companies account for 55 percent of China’s exports – with relative chickenfeed.

On the buy side, 650,000 foreign cars were imported, an increase of 84 percent, reports Gasgoo. More than half of the imported cars are luxury SUVs. It could have been more if the suppliers would have been able to keep up with the demand. 2010 was defined by “difficulties in purchasing foreign luxury cars,” Sun Yong, vice general manager of the China Automobile Trading Company, said. Many who ordered their X6 or Q7 last year will wait many months until they will finally get it.

No import values are known yet. Take a guess: Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus are the top three imported brands.

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  • Dynasty Dynasty on Jan 30, 2011

    Hmm. They are probably just importing a lot now and sending them around to their intellectual copy right thieves.. I mean engineers, to copy and clone them. It wont be too long before you can buy a brand new knockoff 750li for the same price as a used three year old 3 series.

  • L'avventura L'avventura on Jan 30, 2011

    As it stands, China doesn't seem to pose any export threat to developed nations as Chinese domestic brands are currently non-existent to countries outside of China. For the foreseeable future, Chinese automotive exports to the rest of world will be dependent on non-Chinese brands (VW, GM, Ford, etc.) , and there is no indication yet at least that China will become a major export hub for these brands. The biggest threat to the Chinese automotive export market is Thailand, the Japanese and Ford have set up shop there as an export hub to Europe and Asia due to their existing FTA agreements. VW this month has also announced this month consideration for a Thai plant. Unless China can move forward with more FTA agreements its very unlikely that China will become a major automotive exporter. The Japanese in particular are setting up a massive supply chain infrastructure in Thailand. Another factor that may help Chinese exports is a sudden drop in Chinese domestic demand, right now most of domestic production is still feeding the massive Chinese consumption, a sudden change where there is severe excess capacity in Chinese plants could mean a funneling of those productions to the developed world. However, a "made in China" car also still poses a lot of political and branding risks for the brand that does it.

    • Vbofw Vbofw on Jan 31, 2011

      What would be the delivery charge for a Thai-produced vehicle? $2,000?

  • FreedMike Alfa had its’ shot in this market, and it didn’t work out. Of course, based on Alfa’s horrid history of reliability record, scathing quality related reports like this one certainly didn’t help. Yes, the base models weren’t that bad, but this kind of bad press was the worst possible thing for a brand that got drummed out of this market over quality issues. Besides, Dodge is a LOT more viable in this market than Alfa Romeo. Let the Europeans have Alfas; North America
  • Dukeisduke That charging station in the picture looks like it's nailed to the back of an old utility pole and weather beaten chest of drawers. Lol, WTH?
  • Dukeisduke Corey, do you have links for some of those ads? I'd like to be able to zoom in on them.
  • Dukeisduke A free Model T Touring Car? Heck, I'd take one of those, even today. The ABC radio news ad has a few names I recognize - columnist Walter Winchell (he later narrated TV's "The Untouchables"), Drew Pearson, who was an accomplished journalist and writer, Dorothy Kilgallen, a columnist who later appeared on game shows in the '50s, like "What's My Line?", and Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons.
  • Dukeisduke The Hornet got plenty of hate on Instagram when Dodge announced it the other day, mainly from people who want Dodge to build nothing but Hemi-powered vehicles, in perpetuity.