September 11, 2015

Growth in China's car sales has slowed but will still be about 34% more than US sales in 2018

IHS Automotive has reduced its full year 2015 light vehicle sales forecast for China to 23.4 million units, reflecting a growth rate over 2014 of just 1.4 percent, compared with its previous forecast of 4.4 percent year-over-year growth. Recent sales data -- when combined with the slump in the Purchasing Manager’s Index and currency devaluation in early August, as well as the summer stock market rout -- suggests a significant rebound in light vehicle sales is unlikely in the coming months. However, sales activity may not be as negative as current media reports suggest.

The sales slowdown is widespread throughout China, according to the IHS analysis of its proprietary province- and city-level forecast, along with the current economic climate. Nearly one in four cities (out of 340 monitored by IHS) is reporting declining light vehicle sales.

IHS preliminary readings of car sales in China for the month of August suggest some stabilization and that the selling rate has improved during the month, although it is still likely to show a small year-over-year decline estimated to be less than 2 percent. If sales in August do follow these readings, once all figures are reported, this would mark the third consecutive month of declines in China. This has happened just once in the past 15 years -- in 2008, at the height of the global recession.

Retail vehicle registrations have maintained volumes far better than wholesale vehicle sales, which may provide stronger guidance for dealer orders. However, registration data also show that the selling pace for new customer deliveries has stalled since March of this year, according to the analysis.

IHS analysts are also looking ahead to 2016 and still expect some growth in light vehicle sales next year, though just about 3 percent, to 24.2 million units.

Looking further ahead, early indications for light vehicle sales reflect a modest recovery in 2017 to nearly 26 million units and 26.9 million in 2018.

The US auto industry is expected to sell 17 million vehicles in 2015 and could reach 20 million in 2018

SOURCE - IHS, Business Wire

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