China In November 2011: Auto Sales Down 2.42 Percent
You’ll probably hear that the Chinese car market grew a tiny bit in November. Don’t believe it. Not true. According to data released today by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) the market for all automobiles dropped 2.42 percent compared to November last year. Not that the sky would be falling:
This November compares to an absolutely gagaesque November 2010, where sales rose 29.3 percent as people rushed to lock-in incentives. December 2010 was likewise nutty, so don’t expect any miracles next month.
China will most likely close out the year with a moderate, gain, a hair above the 18 million sold last year.
Currently, I don’t expect much dramatic growth in 2012 either. Money is tight. The newly rich are not getting massively richer, they sit at home playing mahjong, because they are tired braving traffic jams to go to the golf course. China is slowly preparing for a change on the top, which means that millions of bureaucrats go into hiding and won’t make any new decisions. At the same time, salaries are getting higher and a new middle class emerges. Car ownership is still very low. The Chinese car market will be just fine, just not as nutty as it used to be.
Big growth numbers are a thing of the past now, since you need to win a lottery to be able to have a car. Wanting a car, and having the money isn't enough anymore. So 2% will be the new normal. Without growth, investments will reduce over time, and the Chinese car industry will collapse eventually.
Not only losing market share, but many of their cars just aren't worth the money, even with the questionable used car industry here. I'd rather have a poorly repaired western brand than many of the Chinese new cars, with a few exceptions. Still, this market will grow for a while, the sheer number of people will ensure that.