According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers
(CAAM), vehicle sales in China grew 4.3% to 19.3 million units in
2012, including a 7.1% gain in December to 1.8 million units.
Despite being higher than the 2011-level of 2.5%, sales growth is
lower than the 8% growth projected by CAAM as well as the
double-digit growth in 2009 and 2010.
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The lower-than-expected growth can be attributable to a sluggish
economy, rising fuel costs, weak Japanese automakers sales owing
to a conflict between Beijing and Tokyo, and drastic steps take
by few major cities to curb traffic congestion and emission
Sales by Automakers
The U.S. automakers, including
General Motors Company
Ford Motor Co.
), performed quite well in China in 2012. GM posted an impressive
23.2% rise in sales to 242,486 vehicles, driven mainly by a hefty
41.7% gain in sales at its joint-venture with SAIC Motor Corp.
For the full year, the company's sales grew 11.3% to 2.84 million
units. Meanwhile, Ford sold 626,616 vehicles in the year, up 21%
from 2011. The company's December sales surged 43% to 70,510
Sales of Japanese automakers lagged due to the above-mentioned
conflict. Sales of
Toyota Motor Corp.
) slid 4.9% to 840,000 vehicles in 2012, including a fall of 16%
in December to 90,400 vehicles. However, the automaker is
optimistic about 2013. It expects sales growth of 7% in 2013,
which is higher than its global target of 2%.
Honda Motor Co.
) dipped 3.1% to 598,577 vehicles in the year, including a
significant 19.2% fall in December to 63,264 vehicles. Sales of
Nissan Motor Co.
) slipped 5.3% to 1.18 million vehicles in the year. The
automaker sold 90,400 vehicles in December.
Among the other automakers,
) reported a 4% rise in sales to 206,150 vehicles in 2012.
) sold 2.81 million vehicles in the year, up 24.5% from 2011.
According to CAAM, auto sales in China are expected to rise 7% to
more than 20 million vehicles in 2013, led by strong demand for
passenger vehicles and economic recovery. The association
believes sports utility vehicles (SUVs) will remain the fastest-
growing segment in the year while commercial vehicles will record
a moderate gain in sales.
China Versus U.S.
Auto sales in China had grown at a double-digit pace since 1999,
except in 2008 when the global economic crisis crept in. In 2009,
China overtook the U.S. as the biggest auto market in the world
by sales volumes when the Beijing government introduced a
stimulus package, including tax incentives for small cars. China
accounted for a third of light vehicle sales growth in the last
Auto sales in the U.S. grew 13.4% to the five-year high of 14.5
million vehicles in 2012 including a 9% rise to 1.4 million in
December last year. A host of macroeconomic factors helped the
industry reach the height. They include improving consumer
confidence, falling unemployment and improvement in home sales
Sales were also fueled by strong pent-up demand, due to both
aging vehicles (average age of a car reached 11 years) and the
need to replace damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy. Banks were
also friendlier as they offered greater access to loans with
lower interest rates.