China Car Sales Growth at Slowest Pace in More Than Two Years

Bloomberg Business Week, March 9, 2011

Click here to read the original article

China’s passenger-car sales growth in February fell to the slowest in more than two years after the government ended vehicle-buying incentives and a week-long national holiday stymied demand.

Wholesales of passenger cars including multipurpose and sport-utility vehicles increased 2.6 percent from a year earlier to 967,200 units last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said today in a statement. This is the slowest pace of growth since January 2009, when car purchases fell 7.8 percent.

Automakers including General Motors Co. (GM), Toyota Motor Corp., and Honda Motor Co. have seen their deliveries slow this month after China reinstated a 10 percent sales-tax rate on small cars this year and phased out subsidies for vehicle trade- ins in rural areas. Last year, overall auto sales surged 32 percent to a record 18.06 million, helping China stay the world’s largest vehicle market for the second year running.

The reduced incentives and timing of China’s Lunar New Year holidays contributed to the slowdown, according to industry analysts at Booz & Co. and Nomura Holdings Inc.

“‘Car buying peaks just before the holiday, as Chinese consumers like to show off their shiny new autos to their families over the holiday,’’ said Bill Russo, a Beijing-based senior adviser at Booz. The holidays began on Feb. 3 this year, primarily boosting January sales, compared with Feb. 14 in 2010, which aided that month’s sales, he said.

Total vehicle sales gained 4.6 percent in February to 1.27 million, the auto association said.

Government Incentives

The removal of government buying incentives in January has weakened demand in 2011 as customers brought forward purchases to the end of last year, said Yankun Hou, an analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong. Hou has forecast passenger vehicle sales growth of about 13 percent this year.

GM, China’s largest foreign automaker, reported slower sales growth last month in the country as deliveries by its local minivan venture declined, the company said March 2. The Detroit-based automaker sold 184,498 vehicles in February, an increase of 6 percent, it said in an e-mailed statement. That was down from 22 percent in January.

Honda’s China vehicle sales fell 6.5 percent last month from a year earlier to 41,348 units, the automaker, Japan’s third largest, said this week.

Auto sales will expand between 10 percent and 15 percent this year, the manufacturer’s association estimated in January. China’s economy grew 10.3 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in three years, as industrial production and retail sales picked up, the statistics bureau said Jan 20. The country has grown at an average 11.4 percent pace over the past five years.

BYD Co., the Chinese automaker backed by Warren Buffett, said March 4 that its sales slumped 22 percent during February to 26,521 vehicles.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net


Foreign Carmakers Try Brands Just for China

Bloomberg Business Week, March 3, 2011

GM, Honda, and others are reaching out to less affluent shoppers in China's interior with basic entry-level models

By Liza Lin

Chinese tour guide Chen Libin drives about 300 kilometers each day around the Inner Mongolia grasslands for work, so reliability is a key consideration in determining how he'll spend up to 80,000 yuan ($12,153) on a new car. Chen says models by domestic automakers such as Tianjin FAW Xiali Automobile start breaking down after two years, while foreign cars go at least five years without major problems. That's why he's holding on to his aging Xiali A+ sedan until General Motors (GM) and Honda Motor (HMC) roll out their new China-only cars later this year. "These brands are definitely something I will consider," says Chen of GM's upcoming Baojun and Honda's Li Nian. "Foreign technology offers drivers more comfort, fuel efficiency, and a lower cost of maintenance."

Car shoppers such as Chen are the holy grail for GM, Honda, and Nissan Motor, which are creating brands targeted specially for the world's biggest car market. Their goal is to boost sales in China's interior, where incomes rose almost 11 percent last year. The cheaper brands will help them compete on price against local manufacturers without diluting the cachet their core brands enjoy in more affluent regions of China, says John Zeng, an industry analyst at J.D. Power & Associates (MHP) in Shanghai. "It's a win-win situation," he says. "Consumers pay a lower price for foreign-brand technology, and the foreign makers benefit from an increase in sales volume without hurting their brand image."

These made-for-China brands will use older model platforms and have few extra features, says Leah Jiang, an analyst with Macquarie Research in Shanghai. Automatic transmissions, antilock brakes, auto-climate control, and reclining seats may be left out to keep prices as low as 50,000 yuan ($7,600), says Koji Endo, an auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan.

The market for low-cost cars in China is dominated by domestic automakers BYD, Geely Automobile Holdings, and Chery Automobile. Local brands sell three of every four cars priced below 50,000 yuan and more than half of those costing between 50,000 and 80,000, says Jiang. "I'm not worried about these new brands at all," says Jin Yibo, assistant general manager for Chery, which enjoyed a 36 percent sales increase last year. "Chinese cars offer better value for money, and we understand the local market and consumer very well." Still, BYD on Feb. 25 said it slashed prices on five car models to boost its competitiveness.

Vehicle sales in China grew more than 32 percent in 2010, to almost 18.1 million. Sales are expected to increase about 15 percent this year, with two-thirds of buyers coming from cities where the average annual income is less than $5,000, according to J.D. Power. "If these brands are successful, they are going to have a much higher growth rate," says Bill Russo, a Beijing-based senior adviser at Booz & Co. "The number of people that can shop at that price point is much larger."

GM, the largest foreign automaker in China, will start selling the four-door Baojun 630 compact sedan this spring through its SAIC-GM-Wuling Automotive joint venture. The car will be available at more than 100 dealers, the company says. GM, which hasn't announced Baojun prices, is targeting 15 percent growth next year, following a 29 percent increase last year, to 2.35 million vehicles. Baojun means "treasured horse."

Volkswagen, China's second-largest foreign car manufacturer, and local partners SAIC Motor and FAW Group may create a China-specific brand, said the company's China chief executive, Karl-Thomas Neumann, in January. Honda, Japan's second-largest carmaker, and local partner Guangzhou Automobile Group expect to start selling the Li Nian S1 sedan early this year. Pricing has not been announced. The brand, based on the City model Honda sells in other emerging markets, will have small engines and will be aimed at entry-level buyers. "We are aiming that these Li Nian users will step up to the Honda brand," says Takayuki Fujii, a Beijing-based spokesman for Honda. Honda sales in China increased 12 percent last year and are expected to grow 10 percent this year, the company says.

Nissan, Japan's second-largest automaker, and local partner Dongfeng Motor Group say their upcoming Qi Chen, or "morning star," is intended to meet demand for cheaper models. Endo says it likely will be priced between 50,000 and 70,000 yuan. The car will have the "technologies, quality level, engineering standards" of a foreign brand, says Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga. "I can see some optimistic forecast in this market."

The bottom line: As cars become commonplace in China's coastal regions, foreign automakers are launching cheaper brands for the nation's interior.

With Tian Ying and Li Yanping. Lin is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Click here to read the original article



English Title: Whether China can seize the opportunities in the electric vehicle industry
来源:汽车动态 作者: 时间:2011-02-11
Source: Vehicle Dynamic Analysis: Time :2011-02-11


  如此乐观的预测应归功于中国政府对电动汽车的大力支持。中国政府计划在未来十年内投资1000亿元用于电动汽车的发展。“中国具备领导电动汽车市场的巨大潜力,因为我相信,发展电动汽车是符合国家利益的,原因有多方面:能源安全、空气质量以及汽车数量的不断增加等。”管理咨询公司 ––博斯公司(Booz &Company)高级顾问、克莱斯勒中国公司前总裁比尔·罗威(Bill Russo)说道。但是政府对这一行业的关注还远远不止于对进口原油不断增长的依赖性和国际社会对其减排施加压力的忧虑,中国的这一远大构想也和目前其正在积极提倡的“自主创新”和促进国内消费的政策殊途同归。




  但是,虽然国内的投资热情高涨,位于美国科罗拉多州的研究公司IHS汽车集团(IHS Automotive Group)中国区董事总经理忻天舒却认为,中国对于这一行业的前景过于乐观了:“政府的计划太雄心勃勃了,我们预计中国在2020年将有51万辆混合动力汽车和43万辆电动汽车。”如果是这样的话,电动汽车的销售将在那时只占汽车总体销售的极小比例。J.D.Power预计到2015年,中国的混合动力车和电池动力车将占到整个市场份额的2.5%。


  很多专家指出中国私人汽车企业相对较短的历史也使得他们具有另一种优势––他们不需要与企业内长期从事传统动力车的发展力量相抗衡。“如果你真的开始发展电动车,你之前在发动机、研发、生产线等方面的投资都将可能无所作为,而这一点对于美国、欧洲甚至日本的汽车厂商和零部件供应商都有巨大的影响,”J.D.Power亚太公司的约翰·曾(John Zeng, 音译)指出。



  但是,和其他国家的同行一样,中国的电动汽车行业面临着巨大挑战。中国绿色科技计划(China Greentech Initiaitve, GTI)是一家专门研究中国清洁科技行业的机构,其分析师周李璇(音译)指出,就技术而言,在全球范围内,电池制造商仍在苦苦寻觅能为电池降低成本和提高性能的方法。中国的锂电池制造商(比亚迪、天津力神电池和比克电池是电池企业三巨头)在这方面仍然落后于日本的同类企业,比如松下和NEC,以及美国的A123。