On September 23, the Federation of passengers announced China's car import sales in August. From January to August in 2023, domestic high-end market demand was good, but passenger car imports were only 480000, down 20 per cent from a year earlier, including 74700 in August, down 1 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Federation of passengers.
From January to August 2023, the top three countries in import volume were Germany, Japan and the United States, with import sales of 159900 vehicles, 117100 vehicles and 78200 vehicles respectively, but all declined by 11%, 32% and 18% respectively over the same period last year. In contrast, imported cars from Poland and South Korea increased by 544% and 405% respectively compared with the same period last year, with Poland being the country with the highest year-on-year growth rate in the chart.
On the whole, Germany, Japan and the United States still performed better in imported cars in the first eight months of this year, but they were weaker than in the same period last year, especially in Japan.
From January to August 2023, the top five import brands are Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota (including Lexus), Porsche and Audi. Of this total, BMW rose 23 per cent year-on-year to 134300 and Mercedes-Benz grew 23 per cent to 133900, with the overall performance of the two companies relatively stable.
Toyota, on the other hand, has shown a downward trend, falling 12% year-on-year to 123200 vehicles in the previous August. In fact, a decline in Toyota imported cars is to be expected. A few years ago, the Lexus brand with relatively strong performance of imported car brands showed a significant downward trend. Take July sales as an example. In July 2023, Lexus sales were 16003, down 18% from a year earlier. From January to July, cumulative sales fell 19% from a year earlier to 86500, making it the only brand in the top three to decline. 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, from January to August in 2023, the highest-selling model was the BMW X5, with cumulative sales of 64000 vehicles. Although the BMW X5 has been made in China for a year, according to the data, the import volume of the car is still up 85% from the same period last year. At the 2023 Chengdu Auto Show, the mid-term revamped domestic BMW X5 came on the market, with a total of six new models priced between 615000 and 800000 yuan. The new car is mainly aimed at the appearance upgrade, the power is still equipped with 2.0T and 3.0T engine, but the power has been upgraded compared to the cash.
Lexus es ranked second, with cumulative sales of 60200 vehicles in the first eight months of this year, but down 5 per cent from a year earlier; in addition, Lexus RX fell 53 per cent year-on-year to 15600 and Mercedes-Benz GLE fell 16 per cent to 29300.
By contrast, Mercedes-Benz GLB, which ranked third in sales, saw a significant increase, surging 253 per cent year-on-year to 48000 vehicles, second only to the BMW iX3, which rose 425 per cent to 2629 vehicles in the previous August. In addition, the Guardian, Audi A5, Touareg, BMW 2-Series and Porsche 911 also increased by 50% or more.
The Federation of passengers pointed out in the report that in the past two years, Japanese Lexus es, Lexus RX and other models have a poor performance, while Porsche has a weak trend. In addition, the trend of Chinese traditional luxury cars is also relatively weak in 2023.
Generally speaking, since 2023, China's imported car market has undergone very obvious changes. Data show that although the domestic luxury car market is generally good, China's imported car imports have continued to decline at an average annual rate of about 10 per cent from 1.24 million in 2017 to only 885000 in 2022, an average annual decline of 10 per cent. Imports in the first eight months of this year are still down from the lows of the past decade. Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the Federation of passengers, said that the core driving force for the growth of the import market is still the upgrading of consumption of passenger cars, so compared with ordinary fuel vehicles, the overall trend of luxury cars and imported cars 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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