By on September 10, 2011

Now that Chinese car sales are a hot topic on CNBC, and now that even Jalopnik reports Chinese car sales, here a short primer on how it’s done. You may want to write that down. It’s tricky.

The people who have the final word on Chinese automobile production and sales are not from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The final word has the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Never use the data of the China Passenger Car Association, they just lead you astray. I also recommend to distrust Bloomberg, they are prone to making mistakes – although this time, they were right.  If your Chinese is a bit rusty, use sources such as Shanghai Daily to double-check. No problem. Love to help. Now, for the numbers:

The CAAM reported yesterday that August production of automobiles in China rose 8.72 percent year-on-year, while sales advanced a tepid 4.15 percent. For the first eight months of the year, production is up 3.04 percent, sales are up 3.33 percent.

What continues to drag the market down are commercial vehicles. While passenger car sales were up 7.4 percent in August,  commercial vehicles declined by more than 6.4 percent.  Our GM sales oracle must have taken a vacation and sent an intern:  GM China’s combined sales were up 13.4 percent.  Wuling sales (up 8.2 percent in total, commercial vehicles up 6 percent) had indicated that commercial sales turned a corner. They did not. At least not in China as a whole.

The CAAM is keeping careful books of the national background of its car industry. The following table shows the market share of brands of various national origin for the first 8 months of the year. These are not imports, these are joint ventures with companies like Toyota, Volkswagen, GM, Hyundai etc. Sorry, but this table again ruins the trite and not true myth that Chinese hate Japanese cars and love them their Buicks. The table tells a different story. China’s own brands, all 100 or so of them, only have less than a third of the total market.

Brand Origin Share
Japan 21.30%
Germany 21.27%
U.S.A. 15.38%
Korea 8.71%
France 3.92%
China 29.43%
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