Chinas SUV segment is growing with many domestic carmakers launching mid to upper market models. This JAC T5 is available in CKD kit form and will soon be assembled in Brazil

China's SUV segment is growing with many domestic carmakers launching mid to upper market models. This JAC T5 is available in CKD kit form and will soon be assembled in Brazil

China's Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Automotive Committee, says recent growth rates of around 6% will become the established benchmark for the near future as previous runaway increases start to occur more sparsely.

The vast country has seen extraordinary levels of rising consumption across many sectors but, despite a brake being applied to some of the more eye-catching percentages, market increases are still extremely impressive by global standards.

"The Chinese [vehicle] market is number one for seven years, but growth is slower than GDP," said China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Automotive Committee chairman, Wang Xia, at this week's Global Automotive Forum (GAF) in Chongqing.

"In the first four months, production and sales grew 6%, so the slow growth rate is becoming the new normal. New electric vehicles are expected to become dominant on the market [and] in the first four months of this year, grew 1%.

"We have our own proprietary IT, intelligent technology opened up new opportunities for the industry [and] almost all cars are coming with functions of connectivity.

"Chinese brands are stabilising and the very big reason is the SUV segment is growing. Many Chinese carmakers are launching mid to upper market models, [while] Chinese carmakers are becoming one of the very important forces globally.

"We will seize the opportunities of 'one belt, one road' [and] the importance of Chinese brands will change the global situation. I feel the change of the car industry in the next 10 years will be faster than the past 50 years."

The 'new normal' theme of GAF was echoed by Chongqing vice mayor, Mu Huaping, who stressed steady rather than spectacular growth continues to drive the auto sector for which the city has become so important in China.

"Medium to low growth rate is entering the stage of new normal," said Huaping, addressing nearly 1,000 delegates at the conference. "The [car] industry no longer [only] looks at integration but also on growth of the aftermarket and service.

"Per capita [income of] US$5,000 to US$8,000 is innovation-driven and above US$8,000, driven by quality. We are definitely in the stage of growth driven by innovation. Innovation is about restructuring of resources, the key is new product, new processes and new technology.

"Chongqing is the biggest centre for manufacture of automobiles. The impact on the auto industry is driven by market services and technological advancement."