Chinese Car Sales Make People See Double

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
chinese car sales make people see double

Some of you are probably tired of the continuous reporting on car sales in China. Executives of the world’s biggest carmakers think otherwise. Without China, their companies would be also-rans. General Motors for instance says it sells more cars in China than back home. January through April, GM reports 972,369 sales from the Middle Kingdom, versus 821,707 in America. Getting a firm hand on sales in the world’s largest car market is important, but difficult. The tear out from a table published by Reuters illustrates this vividly – to the numerically unchallenged.

The untrained eyes (and not too many follow the ebbs and flows of car sales) see two giants on this table: General Motors, and SAIC. Looks are deceiving, most of their sales are counted twice. GM reports its sales in China, SAIC reports the same (but not necessarily identical) sales again. GM has a contract that allows it to report sales of the SAIC-GM-Wuling three-way joint venture, in which GM holds a minority interest. No skin off majority partner SAIC’s back: SAIC simply reports the numbers again. Without the dubious achievement of some 1.5 million Wuling sales, GM would not even be in the Top Three.

People with a tendency towards OCD will notice that the numbers are slightly off. GM reports different numbers for Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling than SAIC does. Spend some time in China, and you will shrug it off as a rounding error. There are bigger discrepancies to fry.

Have a look at this table. It shows the January-April sales for select Chinese automakers, as reported by the Chinese manufacturers’ association CAAM and by Reuters. Would the real sales please stand up?

Source: CAAM

Shanghai GM410,200431,309Shanghai VW355,900430,143Dongfeng Nissan237,100522,352Geely150,900155,078Dongfeng PSA142,100142,077
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  • When you've got a billion and a half people and America is stupid enough to give you all of their factory jobs, it should be relatively easy to make money and buy new cars. Too bad those stupid Americans will be forced to scale back their buying and will go deeper into a recession since almost every dollar they spend on products will leave their country. After-all, just about everything they buy says: "Made in China" now. Good thing they are to stupid to enact protectionist policies - you know - like the ones China and South Korea have.

  • Tuffjuff Tuffjuff on May 14, 2012

    Speaking of Buicks, in the next 6-12 months I'm picking up an Enclave. Gorgeous car and surprisingly inexpensive used.

  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • 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 😉