China, Socialism & Consumer Behavior: Passenger-car Sales in the Rise

China’s passenger-car sales rose 20.41 percent for the first quarter from a year earlier, led by two ventures of Volkswagen AG, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said recently.

Domestic car makers sold a combined 1.85 million passenger cars, including sedans, multi-purpose vehicles, sport utility vehicles and crossovers during January to March, compared with 1.53 million units for the same period of last year, the official auto association said.

The figures are impressive as the country was hit by severe snowstorms in January that halted production and delayed deliveries.

Sales for March amounted to a record of 700,500 units, up 23.55 percent from the same period of last year, fueled by heated market demand after the transportation recovery.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, first-quarter production expanded 16.4 percent to 1.82 million units, the China Passenger Car Association said.

“Many consumers placed their orders as they were afraid car prices would go up amid the surging cost of raw material such as steel and iron ore,” said Rao Da, secretary general of CPCA.

“The sizzling sales demonstrated the development of China’s auto industry is still on a fast track because it is not boosted by widespread price discounts.”

China had 163 million motor vehicles by the end of March, up 1.85 percent from the end of 2007, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

Automobiles and motorcycles accounted for 90.60 percent of the total, with tractors, trailers and other motor vehicles accounting for the rest, statistics from the traffic administration bureau of the ministry showed.

Of the total motor vehicles, 123 million are privately-owned, up 5.08 percent from the end of 2007, the bureau said.

Meanwhile, the number of drivers was also on the rise, reaching167 million by the end of March, up 2 percent from the end of 2007. Of the total, 66.03 percent were automobile drivers, the bureau said.

FAW-Volkswagen, the venture between Volkswagen and First Automotive Works Group, notched up the highest sales of 144,800 units for the first three months, trailed by Shanghai Volkswagen‘s 137,400 units and Shanghai GM’s 116,200 vehicles.

Top 10 best sellers, which also include Chery, FAW Toyota, Dongfeng Nissan, Geely, Guangzhou Honda, Chang’an Ford Mazda and Beijing Hyundai, sold a combined 905,500 vehicles, representing 66 percent of the total.

Guangzhou Honda said sales of its latest Accord set a record of 21,068 units in March, beating Toyota’s Camry to regain the sales crown in China’s mid-to-high-class segment three months after its launch.

The three best-selling models were Volkswagen’s Santana sedan, Jetta mid-class sedan and General Motors’ Excelle.

Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Lead Product Design Strategist at SAP and promotes User Experience Design as visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design. Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar Medeiros has helped truly global companies in several countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United States) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he championed the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai

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