Sales of Chinese made vehicles rose by 23% to 3.156m units in December 2023 from 2.556 million units a year earlier, according to passenger car and commercial vehicle wholesale data collected by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

Total vehicle sales, including exports, increased 12% to a record 30.09m units last year from 26.9m in 2022, with passenger vehicle sales rising by 11% to 26.1m units while commercial vehicle sales were 22% higher at 4.03m.

The domestic vehicle market was estimated to have expanded by just 6% to 25.18m units last year with buyers attracted by the large number of new passenger vehicle models launched over the last year and by aggressive promotional campaigns and deep discounting by vehicle manufacturers and dealers.

The commercial vehicle market rebounded more strongly from weak levels in the previous year, as the country continued its gradual recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Overall exports surged 58% to 4.91m units last year, helped by soaring sales in Russia after numerous brands withdrew from this market due the invasion of Ukraine. Total vehicle production in China rose 12% to 30.161m units last year.

Chinese brands have significantly increased their combined share of passenger vehicle sales in the last few years, to an estimated 60% last year, thanks in large part to the growing penetration of electric and plug in hybrid vehicles, referred to locally as new energy vehicles (NEVs).

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By GlobalData

NEV sales, including exports, rose by 38% to 9,495,000 units last year to account for almost 32% of total vehicle sales, including a 25% rise in battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales to 6,685,000 units and an 84% rise in plug-in hybrid sales to 2,803,000 units. Sales of fuel cell electric vehicles jumped by 76% to 2,000 units last month.

Exports of NEVs surged by 78% to 1.203m units last year, with BEV exports jumping by 81% to 1.102m units according to CAAM data.

Manufacturer performances

The country’s largest vehicle manufacturing group, Shanghai-based SAIC Motor, reported a 5% fall in global sales to 5,020,865 in 2023 with December sales surging by 19% to 636,936 units. This was well short of the company’s 6m target set for last year. Overseas sales increased by 19% to 1,208,242 units while total NEV sales rose by 5% to 1,122,908 units.

SAIC-GM-Wuling sales fell 12% to 1,403,066 units last year, followed by SAIC-Volkswagen with an 8% decline to 1,215,003 units and Shanghai-GM with a 14% drop to 1,001,017 units. SAIC Motor passenger vehicle sales rose by over 17% to 986,018 units, while SAIC Maxus’ sales increased by 6% to 226,664 units.

BYD global sales surged 62% to 3,024,417 units in 2023, including a fourfold increase in exports to 242,765 units. BEV deliveries surged 73% to 1.575m while plug-in hybrid sales increased by 52% to 1.438m. The company also reported an 88% rise in commercial vehicle sales to 11,500 units.

GAC Group’s sales were up by almost 3% at 2,504,975 units last year, despite GAC Toyota sales falling 5.5% to 950,008 units and GAC Honda sales plunging 14% to 640,466 units. The group’s electric vehicle subsidiary, GAC Aion, reported a 77% surge to 480,003 units, while GAC Motor sales increased by 12% to 406,505 units.

Geely Auto reported an 18% rise in global sales to 1,686,516 units, while Great Wall Motors global sales were 15% higher at 1,230,704 units.

Tesla shipped 947,742 vehicles from its Shanghai plant last year, including 603,664 units for local sale and 344,078 for export.