New vehicle sales in China increased 9% to 2.86m units in September 2023 after rebounding 26% to 2.61m units a year ago, according to passenger car and commercial vehicle wholesale data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

The market continued to pick up momentum last month, helped by promotional campaigns and discounts by vehicle manufacturers and government stimulus policies. The economic recovery from the Covid pandemic has been sluggish so far, with GDP expanding by just 5.5% in the first half of the year after growth slowed to 3% in the whole of 2022. Youth unemployment remains high and consumers have reined in spending amid rising economic uncertainty with the property sector among the weakest sectors.

Sales in the first nine months of the year expanded 8% to 21.01m units from 19.47m a year ago, with passenger sales rising 7% to 18.13m units while commercial vehicle sales were 16% higher at 2.88m.

Chinese brands have significantly increased their combined share of the country’s passenger vehicle market in the last few years to an estimated 55% year to date (YTD) thanks in large part to the growing popularity of electric and plug in hybrid vehicles referred to locally as new energy vehicles (NEVs). Sales increased 37% to 6.3m YTD to account for 30% of total vehicle sales.

Vehicle production rose 7% to 21.05m YTD while exports surged 60% to 3.39m including 825,000 NEVs.

Manufacturer performances

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By GlobalData

The country’s largest vehicle manufacturing group, SAIC Motor, reported a 10% fall in global sales to 3,377,352 in the first nine months of 2023 with September sales dropping 7% to 482,188 units. Overseas sales increased 22% to 837,902 units . At the beginning of the year, the group set a target to increase global sales by 13% to 6m vehicles in 2023, including 1.5m NEVs.

SAIC-Volkswagen YTD sales dropped 13% to 832,328 units while Shanghai-GM volume was 15% lower at 724,259 units. SAIC-GM-Wuling was the group’s worst-performing joint venture with sales falling 18% to 886,400 units while SAIC Motor own passenger vehicle sales were 6% higher at 650,512 units and SAIC Maxus sales also increased 6% to 161,830 units.

BYD global sales surged 76% to 2,070,255 units YTD, including 145,500 overseas sales. Deliveries of BEVs surged 80% to 1,048,413 units while plug-in hybrid sales increased 72% to 1,021,842. Earlier this year the company said it aims to sell over 3m vehicles in 2023.

GAC Group sales declined 2% to 1,794,264 units YTD with GAC Toyota sales falling by 10% to 685,800 units while GAC Honda sales were down 24% at 435,847 units. Electric vehicle subsidiary GAC Aion said sales surged 93% to 350,986 units.

Geely Auto reported a 17% rise in global sales to 1,155,278 units while Great Wall Motors global volume was 8% higher at 864,045 units.

Tesla shipments from the Shanghai factory fell 11% to 74,073 units in September ahead of the launch of the facelifted Model 3. This brought YTD sales to 699,000 units including 434,000 local sales.