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May 13, 2021

China new vehicle sales back to pre-pandemic levels

China's new vehicle market expanded by 8.6% to 2.252m units in April 2021 from 2.070m in the same month of last year, according to passenger car and commercial vehicle wholesale data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

The country’s vehicle market has now fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, driven mainly by pent-up demand and low interest rates. According to the China Passenger Car Association, 8.39m citizens were given new driver’s licences in the first quarter – further fuelling demand for new vehicles.

The Chinese economy rebounded by over 18% year-on-year in the first quarter after shrinking by 6.8% a year earlier, with strong domestic and overseas demand driving a sharp rise in industrial output. The World Bank last month said it expects economic growth to exceed 8.0% in 2021.

New vehicle sales surged by almost 52% to 8,748,000 units in the first four months of 2021 from 5,761,000 units in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales jumping by over 53% to 6,791,000 units while commercial vehicle sales were up by over 47% at 1,956,000 units.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), comprising mainly electric and hybrid-powered vehicles, increased by 180% to 206,000 units in April and by 249% to 732,000 units year-to-date with passenger vehicles accounting for 694,000 of these.

The association also reported vehicle exports increased by over 115% to 151,000 units in April and by more than 88% to 516,000 units year-to-date – including 54,000 NEVs.

Manufacturer performance

SAIC Motor said its sales increased just slightly to 419,519 units in April while year-to-date volume was up by over 42% at 1,561,929 units. Its SAIG-GM-Wuling subsidiary increased its sales by 55% to 443,331 units year-to-date, while SAIC-GM sales rose by 44% to 416,392 units. SAIC-Volkswagen reported a sales increase of just under 18% to 357,400 units, while SAIC Motor’s sales were up by 41% at 199,355 units.

GAC Group sales rose 45% to 683,654 in the first four months of the year, with GAC-Toyota sales rising by 47% to 274,000 units while GAC Honda sales were up by 45% at 252,920 units and GAC Motor increased by 37% higher to 99,998 units.

Geely Auto said its global sales, including Geely and Lynk & Co-branded vehicles, fell by 5% to 100,331 units in April. This includes 8,578 exports, which increased by 96% year-on-year, while NEV sales increased by 96% to 25,662 units. In the first four months of 2021 sales increased by 39% to 433,907 units, including a 128% jump in NEV to 80,413 units.

Great Wall Motor said its sales increased by 14% to 92,000 vehicles in April and by over 86% to 431,000 units in the first four months of 2021 – including 278,000 Haval-branded models.

BYD Auto four-month sales increased by over 60% to 149,379 units, driven by a 128% surge in NEV sales to 80,413 units.

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