New-car buyers in China--the world's largest auto market--have been unmoved by the country's slowest economic growth in over two decades. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said consumers bought 2.04 million vehicles, a 10.4 percent increase in the number of cars and SUVs bought in the same month last year.
“The January passenger car [excluding commercial vehicles] sales situation is good, boosting overall growth,” the CAAM said Tuesday. December car sales hit a record high, it added.
Earlier this month, the U.S. reported its best January passenger-car sales performance since 2006 with a 14 percent increase from the same month the previous year, to 1.15 million units.
But market share of Chinese brands continue to struggle against foreign marques, which are largely domestically manufactured through joint ventures with global automakers like Volkswagen and General Motors. Last year, domestic brands grew sales by 4.1 percent, but lost 2.1 percent market share, a fourth consecutive annual decline.
Ford reported last week that it sold a record 112,599 vehicles in China last month, a 19-percent increase. The Dearborn, Michigan, maker of Lincolns and F-Series pickup trucks is a relative latecomer to the Chinese market, where it sells Chinese-built Escort and Focus compact cars and Fusion full-sized sedans (under the name Mondeo). But an aggressive expansion campaign has so far paid off as the company exceeded one million unit sales in China last year for the first time.
General Motors, the second-largest foreign automaker in China, reported a 2.4 percent decline in Chines sales last month through its numerous joint ventures, to 339,781 units. GM sales were up 12 percent in 2014, delivering 3.5 million vehicles there last year. Volkswagen Group, which owns Audi, sold 12 percent more vehicles in China (including Hong Kong), to 3.6 million units last year.