From January to June 2023, high-end market demand is good, but passenger car imports are only 340000, down 25 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Federation of passengers. Among them, car imports were 63000 in June, an increase of 8% over the same period last year. Data show that Japanese imported car imports fell more sharply than expected in the first five months of this year, but Japanese imports rebounded in June.
By country, from January to June 2023, the top three countries in import volume were Germany, Japan and the United States, with import sales of 116063, 73955 and 55984 respectively. It should be noted that in the first half of the year, Japanese imported cars plummeted by 43% compared with the same period last year, while American imported cars fell by 29%, Swedish imported cars by 22% and German imported cars by 12%. In contrast, Korean imported cars increased by 500% year-on-year, the country with the highest year-on-year growth rate in the chart, while Mexican imported cars increased by 49%. Overall, imported cars in 2023 performed relatively well in India, South Korea and Mexico, while imported cars in Germany and the United States were weak, while some European imported cars showed divergent year-on-year performance.
In terms of brands, from January to June 2023, the top three import brands remained Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, with Mercedes-Benz growing 36 per cent year-on-year to 93918 and BMW 58 per cent to 91021, with the overall performance of the two companies relatively stable. In addition, Porsche, Audi, Land Rover, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and other imported brands also achieved year-on-year growth.
By contrast, Lexus, which has had the strongest performance in previous years, has suffered a severe recent decline. Lexus sales fell 20 per cent year-on-year to 70505 in the first six months of this year, making it the only brand in the top three on the chart to decline, according to the data. For comparison, Lexus sold 183971 vehicles in the same period in 2022, a relatively strong performance (156750 for Mercedes-Benz and 152841 for BMW). Industry insiders believe: "although Lexus is also in the transition to electrification, it has not been widely recognized by the market."
In terms of specific models, the highest-selling model from January to June in 2023 is the BMW X5, with cumulative sales of 46535 vehicles. Although the BMW X5 has been made in China for a year, according to the data, the import volume of the car still increased by 122% compared with the same period last year. It was closely followed by Lexus es, with sales of 38763 vehicles, but down 13% from a year earlier, while Mercedes-Benz GLB, which ranked third in sales, showed a marked increase, surging 473% to 35686 vehicles, the highest increase on the chart. In addition, Audi Q7 and Lexus NX also saw year-on-year growth, with Audi Q7 up 155 per cent year-on-year to 8144, second only to Mercedes-Benz GLB, while Lexus NX rose 65 per cent to 13519, compared with a 47 per cent decline in the same period last year.
In addition, the Lincoln brand navigator model also fell 15%, or due to the decline in sales of the car, the Lincoln brand fell 24% year-on-year to 10910 vehicles in the first six months of this year.
Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the passenger Association, pointed out that the trend of Chinese traditional luxury cars in 2023 is relatively weak, but the import and sales of the main German brands are better, among which the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLB are super strong. On the contrary, Japanese Lexus es, Lexus RX and other import sales performance is poor.
Generally speaking, since 2023, China's imported car market has undergone very obvious changes. Data show that China's imported car sales reached 1.24 million in 2017, but have continued to decline since then, with sales falling to 880000 in 2022, an average annual decline of 10 per cent. The downward trend of imported car sales continues after 2023, which is still lower than the low point of the past decade. However, despite the decline in overall sales of imported cars, growth is particularly pronounced in the luxury car sector, and market share is also increasing. The data show that the market share of luxury cars has risen from 78% in 2019 to 91.6% in 2023.
Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the Federation of passengers, pointed out that the core driving force for the growth of the import market is still the upgrading of the consumption of passenger cars, so compared with ordinary fuel vehicles, the overall trend of luxury cars and imported vehicles is very good, but the electrification transformation has changed the demand for fuel vehicles, and the demand for imported fuel vehicles has also declined significantly. With the increasing complexity of international relations, it is still necessary to plan in advance to establish more import models and maintain the reasonable scale of imported cars.
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