VW and GM lose ground to Chinese EV makers as petrol-heavy line-ups fall out of favour in world’s largest car market

VW’s sales in mainland China and Hong Kong rose 1.2 per cent year on year in a market that grew 5.6 per cent overall

GM China’s 2022 deliveries fell 8.7 per cent to 2.1 million, the first time since 2009 its mainland China sales fell below its US deliveries

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Volkswagen (VW) and General Motors (GM), once the dominant players in China’s car sector, are now struggling to keep up with mainland-based electric vehicle (EV) makers as their petrol-powered line-ups lose ground in the world’s largest market.

VW reported on Tuesday that it delivered 3.24 million units in mainland China and Hong Kong last year, a relatively weak 1.2 per cent year-on-year increase in a market that grew 5.6 per cent overall.

The German company sold 23.2 per cent more pure electric cars in mainland China and Hong Kong than it did in 2022, but the total was only 191,800. Meanwhile, the mainland EV market jumped 37 per cent last year, with deliveries of pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars hitting 8.9 million units.

VW, which remains the largest car brand in China, grappled with intense competition from BYD, barely beating the Shenzhen-based EV maker in terms of sales. BYD deliveries soared 61.9 per cent year on year to 3.02 million in 2023.

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“We are tailoring our portfolio to the needs of Chinese customers,” Ralf Brandstatter, a VW group board member for China, said in a statement. “While the situation will remain demanding over the next two years, we are further developing our technological capabilities and setting up our business for the future.”

VW in July joined forces with domestic EV maker Xpeng, announcing that it would invest about US$700 million for 4.99 per cent of the Tesla rival. The two companies plan to roll out two Volkswagen-badged midsize EVs in 2026 in China, according to their technological framework agreement.

Early this month, GM China said its deliveries on the mainland fell 8.7 per cent to 2.1 million units last year, from 2.3 million in 2022.

It was the first time since 2009 that the American carmaker’s sales in China fell below its deliveries in the US, where it sold 2.59 million units in 2023, up 14 per cent on year.

GM said EVs accounted for a quarter of its total deliveries in China, but it did not provide a year-on-year growth number or publish EV sales data for China in 2022.

“GM will continue its intensive new-energy vehicle launch cadence in China in 2024,” it said in a statement.

China, also the world’s largest EV market, makes up about 60 per cent of the world’s electric car sales, with home-grown companies like BYD, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, grabbing 84 per cent of the domestic market in the first 11 months of 2023.

UBS analyst Paul Gong said on Tuesday that Chinese EV makers are now enjoying an advantage in technological development and production.

He also forecast that mainland carmakers would control 33 per cent of the global market by 2030, nearly double the 17 per cent in 2022, buoyed by the increasing popularity of battery-powered vehicles.

The country is already on track to become the world’s largest car exporter in 2023, having exported 4.4 million units in the first 11 months, an increase of 58 per cent from 2022, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

In the same period, Japanese carmakers, the world’s top exporters in 2022, sold 3.99 million units abroad, according to data from the Japan Automobile Industry Association.

Separately, Tesla sold 603,664 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles made in its Shanghai-based Gigafactory in China last year, up 37.3 per cent from 2022. The growth was nearly unchanged from the 37 per cent sales rise recorded in 2022 when it delivered about 440,000 vehicles to Chinese buyers.

Post time: Jan-30-2024


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