HOW IS GROWING INVESTMENT IN CHINA, INFLUENCING AUTO INDUSTRY GROWTH?
China is the largest car market, globally. Chinese consumers purchase almost double the number of cars compared to American consumers. Chinese companies have been majorly investing billions in the auto industry. The latest example is Volvo, the Swedish carmaker known for its boxy, safe, brazenly unstylish vehicles, which makes it the pride of the Swedish car industry. The Chinese conglomerate Geely bought Volvo from Ford in 2010 for about USD 2 billion. Volvo then went through a restructuring process and spent USD 11 billion to invest in new cars and trucks.
The executive team of Volvo has predicted that Chinese participation in the auto business is a natural evolution for the growth of the Chinese economy and its role on the world stage. Volvo represents Chinese investment in Europe and the United States; on the other hand, General Motors (GM) represents American investment in China. Its Buick brand has had a grip in China; and for luxury car manufacturers, China is one of the most significant markets.
PASSENGER CARS LARGEST SEGMENT
In 2017, for the first time, sales of cars and commercial vehicles, globally, exceeded 90 million units, out of which 25% were registered in China. 24.7 million cars were sold in the former Celestial Empire last year, about four times more than in 2008. As for luxury cars, the major car brands planned investments in the Chinese market, and reported double-digit increases, primarily, the German giants, Mercedes (+25.9%) and BMW (+15%). The global car market is going through a continuous phase of growth since 2010. The sector’s development prospects are further boosted by the fact that strong technological innovations characterizing cars over the last decade are attracting motorists, and are expected to continue to do so in the future with the arrival of self-driving cars.
The data for the US market show sales in line with the last year (approximately around 17 million vehicles), and the forecasts for 2018 depending on caution rather than growth. However, it is expected that more registrations will come in the luxury car segment. For the time being, the positive trend of the European market continues. According to data released by ACEA and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, 15.6 million new cars registered in Europe in 2017, half a million more than the previous year (+3.3%).
The performances of the leading car groups were positive, with Volkswagen ending the year with more than three and a half million registrations in Europe, an increase of 2.3%. The growth was mainly driven by the sales of Seat and Skoda; Fiat Chrysler recorded a rise of 4.9%, with sales exceeding one million units in 2017. In Asian companies, Toyota achieved the most significant growth, equal to 13%, and increased its market share from 4.1% to 4.5%.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES IN CHINA
Luxury car sales, majorly fuelled by gains in household wealth and consumer confidence, are driving the surge in the Chinese car market. But not only did the country show sales growth in the first quarter but relaxations in government regulations also helped in globalizing the market. Sales gains in China picked up to 5.1% year-over-year in March 2018, up from a 3% increase during the first two months of 2018. The Chinese auto market is being dominated by luxury vehicles, which helps in driving its global market share of the top six luxury brands, from under 20% six years ago, to the now 30%.
Luxury automakers are expected to be the significant drivers of sales gains in China in 2018, holding nearly half of the overall year-over-year sales improvement through March 2018. The Chinese government stated in April 2018 that it is allowing Chinese automakers to maintain a majority share of their own enterprises, starting in 2022. However, electric car manufacturers will be able to do so by the end of 2018. Additionally, Beijing has also said that it will reduce 25% vehicle import tariff as soon as possible. As a result, it will change the landscape and will become more beneficial for the United States and other nations, as 95% car sales in the country, comprised of vehicles that are manufactured within China. China only imported 1.1 million cars in 2017, with over 45% coming from Western Europe and approximately 30% coming from elsewhere in Asia.
About the Chinese Luxury Car Market
The Chinese luxury car market is expected to witness a CAGR of ~11.3% by the year 2023.
Mordor Intelligence is a market intelligence and advisory firm, operating in 14 industry segments, serving over 600 clients, worldwide.