2011 and 2012 ushered in the era of ‘micro -growth‘ for the Chinese auto market where auto sales slipped from the 30-40% range as seen in the previous decade to to 2.5% and 4.3%, respectively. It was widely thought, and accepted, that micro growth would be the norm rather than the exception for the Chinese automotive market. However, 2013 saw a strong rebound to 13.9% sales growth where sales grew to just under 22 million units over the course of the year with an exceptionally strong December where sales rose 17.9% year-on-year to 2.13 million units according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM)
Despite Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Guiyang installing car buying limits on new car sales, the Chinese demand for automobiles has not been hampered. Instead, sales are drifting from tier one cities into tier two, three and four cities where suburban users are increasingly ditching their motorbikes and well used bus pass for more convenient four wheel vehicles.
According to statistics released by CAAM, the Chinese market is expected to expand by 8% in 2014, but it is at the mercy of global oil prices which has the ability to dampen consumer enthusiasm.
In 2012, Chinese auto sales had risen just 4.3 percent annually to 19.31 million vehicles, hurt by slowing domestic economic growth, limits on car numbers imposed by some cities to cut pollution and congestion, and a territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo that hit sales of Japanese-brand cars.
The rebound of Japanese car sales in the Chinese market is being touted as a significant contributor to the improved sales tally in 2013 with Japanese branded vehicles accounting for 2.93 million units in total. General Motors sold 3.16 million vehicles in China last year, an increase of 11.4% from 2012 whilst Ford had an amazing year with sales reaching 935,813 unit, a surge of 49%.