China’s new vehicle market fell by 1.6% to 2,786,000 units in December 2021 from 2,831,000 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).

Last month was the eight consecutive month of decline for the market, after a strong rebound earlier in the year, although the rate of decline slowed significantly as supply chain shortages began to ease in the fourth quarter.

Passenger vehicle sales increased by 2% to 2,422,000 units last month while commercial vehicle sales plunged 20% to 364,000 units.

Overall vehicle production increased 2.4% to 2,907,000 units in December and was up 3.4% to 26,082,000 units over the full year with major foreign automakers, including Volkswagen and GM, suffering the most from the chip shortages.

Economic growth slowed significantly in the second half of 2021 with factory output affected by supply chain bottlenecks and power shortages while major solvency issues in the property sector have affected consumer sentiment.

GDP growth last year is expected to come in at around 8%, with growth falling to around 4% year on year in the fourth quarter after 5% in the third quarter and an average of 13% in the first half of the year when the economy rebounded from the initial stages of the global pandemic.

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By GlobalData

Total new vehicle sales last year increased 3.8% to 26,275,000 units according to the association, from 25,311,000 units a year earlier, with passenger vehicle sales rising by 6.5% to 21,482,000 units while commercial vehicle sales were down by almost 7% at 4,793,000 units.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), mainly electric and hybrid-powered vehicles, surged by 114% to 531,000 units in December and by 157% to 3,521,000 over the full year – including 2,916,000 battery-powered vehicles. This despite the build-up of significant order backlogs for passenger vehicles in recent months, particularly for EVs, due to supply chain shortages.

The 2022 market will also be supported by monetary easing and the introduction of economic stimulus to help drive up economic growth. CAAM expects the vehicle market to expand by over 5% to 27.5m in 2022.

Manufacturer performance

SAIC Motor’s global sales fell by 2.4% to 5,463,500 units last year, with sales of its SAIC-GM joint venture falling by over 9% to 1,331,567 units while SAIC-Volkswagen sales were down by over 17% at 1,242,022 units – reflecting impact of the recent supply chain shortages.

The group’s domestic brands fared better, with SAIC-GM-Wuling reporting a 3.8% sales rise to 1,660,166 units – including 452,000 small EVs; SAIC Motor sales up by 22% at 800,767 units; and SAIC Maxus 232,844 units (+21%).

The newly established SAIC-Audi joint venture said it aims to sell 50,000 vehicles in China during its first year of operations, in 2022. The company will have three main models available in this market this year, the A7L, Q5 e-tron EV and a full-size SUV, with a network of 120 sales outlets to be in place by year end.

Geely Auto said its global sales were 1% higher at 1,328,029 units in 2021, including 220,516 Lynk & Co vehicles. The company has set a sales target of 1,650,000 vehicles for 2022.

Great Wall Motor said its global sales increased by almost 16% to 1,280,993 units in 2021, including 142,793 overseas sales which more than doubled last year.

BYD Auto reported a 75% surge in passenger vehicle sales to 9730,093 in 2021, with NEV sales jumping by 231% to 593,745 units.

Toyota joint ventures in China saw sales increase by 8.2% to 1,944,000 units in 2021 and Honda sales jumped by 96% to 1,561,540 units, while Nissan volume fell by just over 5% to 1,381,494 units.

Volkswagen said sales at its Chinese joint ventures fell by almost 15% to 3.3m units last year; while GM sales, including those of its SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture, were just slightly lower at 2,891,900 units; BMW and Mini sales increased by almost 9% to 846,237 units to account for 40% of global sales and Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle sales were down by 2% at 758,863 units.