By on July 10, 2019

Automotive retail sales in China rose slightly last month, representing the first uptick in volume over the last year, according to Bloomberg. But those gains were the result of a nationwide fire sale of backed-up inventory that dealers were tired of seeing clutter up their lots. Officially, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) says the new vehicle market still kind of sucks.

For June, wholesale deliveries of new passenger vehicles fell 7.8 percent to 1.73 million units. That’s twelve straight months of negative growth. 

Who is to blame? Well, China’s overall economy isn’t performing wonderfully. Consumer prices on just about everything have increased while the producer price index is nearing the point of deflation. The trade war has exacerbated the issue and, despite it being on hold for the moment, most analysts aren’t forecasting an economic comeback in Asia anytime soon.

However, the automotive market has problems of its own. Tightening emission rules have spooked consumers. At the start of this month, Chinese cities and provinces implemented an evolved emission standard (stage-5) which requires cars to have better filtering systems for particulate matter and trapping exhaust gases in order to be sold. Eager to meet — if not surpass — European auto pollution mandates, China has established a hyper-aggressive regulatory path. Unfortunately those cleaner cars have been a tough sell, as consumers/dealers don’t know if they’ll legally be allowed to put them on the secondhand market.

Certain cities, such as Shanghai, have even gone so far as to adopt new stage-6 standards a year ahead of schedule — meaning dealers cannot sell stage-5 passenger cars that would be legal elsewhere in the country. There have also be discussions of outright bans of internal combustion vehicles further down the line.

“No local government wants second-hand cars or old-generation cars flooding into their cities or provinces,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary of the China Passenger Car Association. “Local government doesn’t care about the life and death of the companies or dealerships.”

According to The Japan Times, some dealerships were chopping more than $2,000 off the price of new stage-5 cars compared to the same model meeting stage-6 standards. One Peugeot dealership in Shanghai reportedly even went so far as to offer a free 301 sedan to customers who bought a 5008 crossover.


[Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock]

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16 Comments on “Chinese Auto Market Still Sour, Dealers Discount Old Stock...”

  • avatar

    I guess a story about Chinese auto sales requires finding a stock “happy couple at dealership” picture with Asian folks!

    • 0 avatar

      Given how similar it looks to the usual “caucasian” one that TTAC uses I wonder how many times and with how many couples the image was shot?

      • 0 avatar

        More times than Bonnie and Clyde.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t delighted when I found another happy couple.

        • 0 avatar

          This was before they were sent to F&I Hell.

          * – Extended Warranty!

          * – Dent and Ding Coverage!

          * – Exterior Protection!

          * – Interior Protection!

          * – Tire and Wheel Protection!

          * – Pulsing third brake light!

          Having recently bought a used car from a Sonic Automotive dealership, I’m very familiar with it. They wanted to add $700+ onto a $6500 cash car, but I talked them out of it.

          • 0 avatar

            Was the original Fargo ever released in the Chinese market?

            Jerry: All right. I’ll talk to my boss. See, they install that TruCoat at the factory, there’s nothin’ we can do, but I’ll talk to my boss.
            [Jerry leaves the room]
            Customer: [to his wife] These guys here–these guys! It’s always the same! It’s always more!

  • avatar

    We lose money on every car, and make it up on volume!

  • avatar

    I’ve never understood the Chinese market – why buy a real vehicle (i.e. Range Rover) when there is a much cheaper Chinese knockoff that is sold legally for tens of thousands of Chinese shells less?

    The rush to invest in China was foolish to begin with – there is a reason they require a Chinese partner (that is so that later the company can be nationalized when China goes to war with us) – and (2) the market is so pumped up with fake Chinese shells through their toying with their valuation that there is no hope of ever having the market to right itself on its own.

    Of course the only reason China gave us the bailout dollars for GM is to artificially create jobs there and then when GM ultimately fails, instant Chinese access to US market (and then total domination of the market when they wage war with us and bring us to our knees during a Democrat Presidency).

    • 0 avatar

      It’s all about choice, but maybe the Chinese knock-offs have reliability issues.

      Some Chinese may ask Americans, why do you buy a GM product when there are so many better choices to be had?

      To which a taxpaying American may reply, “Because I helped bail this GM company out, and I feel I own a part of it.”

      All about choice.

    • 0 avatar

      The Chinese don’t want Chinese products when they can avoid them. They trust their own products as little as we do. That’s why Chinese tourists in the US carry home as much baby formula as they can. There’s also the impression that German cars are safer than others.

      The sister of a Chinese girlfriend of mine was once admiring my Cleveland Indians hat. When I offered it to her, she looked at the label inside, saw “Made in China”, and said “no thanks”.

  • avatar

    Maybe they could send some of their crappy cars over here. They could call them Buicks. Oh, wait !

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