China could overtake the United States as worldâ€™s biggest auto market by 2015.
This year Chinaâ€™s automobile sales are expected to surge 17.7% year on year to 8.3 million units, accounting for 12% of the global sales. Production may reach 8.6 million units; imports and exports are forecasted at 220,000 and 520,000 vehicles respectively by the end of this year, according to State Information Center.
Auto sales in China have doubled in the past six years. In 2003 China surpassed Germany becoming worldâ€™s third largest vehicle market. Last year China overtook Japan becoming world’s second largest vehicle market after the United States.
Over recent years, annual new vehicle sales in the U.S. stand at approximately 17million units. China only represents one half of this volume; however China is narrowing this gap by growing 20% annually. By 2015 China will catch up the U.S. in auto sales.
Japan and Germany are forecast to lag far behind China with their annual vehicle sales maintaining roughly at 5 millionunits.
It is also worth nothing that while market share of A-segment vehicles (including A-, A0 and A00) continuously declines in Chinaâ€™s auto market, B- and C segment vehicles are taking bigger market shares.
Market share of A-, A0- and A00-range vehicles were 48.6%, 20.8% and 7.9% in the first half year, down from their record 54.3%, 27.6% and 10.6% respectively. B-segment vehicles have a market share of 18.6% in the first half year compared with its 12.3% in year 2000. C-segment held 6.5%, while it was 5.9% in 2004.
Local brand vehicles hit a record 30% market share compared with the total passenger vehicle sales, an increase of 43.6% year on year, much higher than the 19.5% growth rate of Sino-foreign joint ventures.
But these brands still gain sales mostly from cheap subcompact sedans, raising concerns about sustaining development with limited profits. As market share of small cars continue to decline, these automakers are challenging the market by tapping into the high-end car sector, better competitiveness and waging price wars.