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Are China’s Auto Sales Suggesting a Dark Future?

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Dec. 26 2018, Updated 1:33 p.m. ET

China’s vehicle sales

According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers’ compiled by MarkLines Data Center, China’s vehicle sales (XLY) were ~2.55 million vehicle units in November, which reflected a sharp 13.9% decline compared to the sales in November 2017. November was the fifth consecutive month and the sixth month in 2018 that China’s vehicle sales fell on a YoY (year-over-year) basis. The vehicle sales fell 11.1%, 4.0%, 3.8%, 11.6%, and 11.7% YoY in February, July, August, September, and October, respectively.

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Passenger cars versus commercial vehicles

In November, China’s passenger car sales fell 16.1% YoY. China’s commercial vehicles sales in November rose 1.7% YoY after witnessing a sharp fall of 10.3% in October. A sharp decline in SUV (sports utility vehicles), MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), and minivan sales impacted  China’s total sales in the past few months. China’s SUV, MPV, and minivan sales fell 18.1%, 30.8%, and 7.2% YoY, respectively, in November.

In the past few months, China’s international trade data suggested weakness. Consistent weakness in China’s auto sales could be enough to trigger investors’ concerns about China’s slowing economic growth.

In this series

In this series, we’ll discuss the November sales figures for Ford (F), Toyota (TM), and Honda (HMC). We’ll discuss what the sales figures could mean for these auto companies’ future growth. General Motors (GM) stopped reporting its monthly sales data after March. The company will likely report its fourth-quarter home market sales data in the first week of January.

Next, we’ll discuss Ford’s Chinese sales data in November.

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