Manufacturing News

China's light vehicle sales up 6% in October

China's light vehicle sales in October increased 6 percent year-on-year to 1.3 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The sales increase suggests that China's car market is not in danger of recession.

But Chinese car buyers continue to avoid Toyota, Nissan and Honda, following China's territorial dispute with Japan. In October, combined sales of Japanese brands plunged 59 percent year-on-year to 98,900 units.

China's SUV segment continued to out-perform the market, with sales rising 12 percent to 164,200 units. Industry sales of low-priced microvans -- which had slumped as China's economy cooled -- rose 9 percent to 187,900 units.Sedan sales rose 5 percent to 905,100 units, but MPV sales dropped 7 percent to 41,700 units.

For the first ten months, China's light vehicle sales grew 7 percent year-on-year to 12.6 million units.

Japanese brands suffer
Toyota, Nissan and Honda have not yet recovered from September street protests triggered by China's territorial dispute with Japan. Toyota's October sales plummeted 44 percent, while Honda's sales plunged 54 percent.

Nissan sales fell 41 percent, but Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said on Nov. 6 that orders in China had recovered to 70 percent of pre-protest levels by mid-October. Showroom traffic is at about 80 percent of normal, Shiga said.

As sales slumped, the Japanese brands' share of China's light-vehicle sales declined to 7.6 percent -- the first time their market share has fallen below 10 percent, according to CAAM.

Industry analysts say the automakers are using generous incentives to win back customers. "Japanese dealers seem to be using aggressive discounting to get customers to come back," said Ole Hui and Jeremy Yeo, Hong Kong-based analysts for Mizuho in a Nov. 5 report. "Toyota seems to be most aggressive, giving up to an 18 percent discount on the new Camry. This compares to 8 to 9 percent discount six months ago."

Other international automakers appear to be benefitting from the Japanese brands' troubles. Hyundai Motor Co. said sales in China increased 37 percent to 80,598 units last month, while Ford Motor Co. said sales jumped 48 percent to 60,518 units.
Meanwhile, General Motors said deliveries of cars and minivans rose 14 percent last month to 251,812 units.

Among German automakers, Audi sales jumped nearly 30 percent to 35,899 units, but Mercedes-Benz sales slumped 4 percent to 15,895. Mercedes has been struggling all year to keep pace with rivals Audi and BMW, which has not yet released October sales.

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