China tops world in terms of auto production, sales for 13 consecutive years

The 2022 Haikou International New Energy Vehicle & Connected Mobility Show is held at Hainan International Convention and Exhibition Center in Haikou in south China's Hainan province, Jan. 8, 2022. (Photo by Su Bikun/People’s Daily Online)

China produced over 26.08 million automobiles and sold nearly 26.28 million in the past year, securing stable growth in the auto industry in the inaugural year of its Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

These two figures, up 3.4 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, made China the world’s largest auto manufacturer and seller for the 13th year in a row, and further reinforced China’s position as the largest auto market in the world.

Currently, production lines of a plant of Chinese carmaker Changan Auto in Liangjiang New Area, southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality are in full swing. The plant has manufactured 13,682 vehicles since the New Year holiday ended, progressing steadily toward the January goal of 79,165 units, said Zhu Huarong, president of Changan Auto.

According to him, the brands under the automobile group sold more than 1.75 million vehicles in the past year, up 16.7 percent from a year ago.

On Dec. 26, 2021, IM Motors, a new smart electric vehicle brand under China’s major carmaker SAIC Motor delivered its first model. Over the past year, SAIC Motor delivered more than 5.81 million vehicles, up 5.5 percent year on year, ranking first in the country for 16 consecutive years. Among them, nearly 2.86 million were sold by the self-owned brands under the automobile group, accounting for 52.3 percent of the group’s total sales volume.

“Putting an end to a three-year downward trend, the auto industry has made huge contributions to the recovery of the Chinese industrial economy and the country’s stable growth in macro economy, said Wang Weiming, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

An obvious consumption upgrade was observed in the Chinese auto market as Chinese residents’ income gradually increased, Wang noted.

In 2021, 21.48 million passenger vehicles were sold in China, up 6.5 percent from a year ago. High-end passenger vehicle brands sold 3.47 million of them, surging 20.7 percent year on year, 14.2 percentage points higher than the general growth in the total sales of passenger vehicles.

“The Chinese auto industry has made remarkable innovations and achieved phenomenal progress in making products more electrified, connected and intelligent,” said Fu Bingfeng, executive vice-president and secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Over the past year, single-cell energy density of Chinese-made power batteries neared 300 watt-hours per kilogram of mass, which meant that it is possible to make a battery system of 200 watt-hours per kilogram of mass, Fu introduced. According to him, over 20 percent of the new vehicles sold on the Chinese market last year were equipped with combined driver assistance system.

Chinese brands sold 9.54 million passenger vehicles last year, up 23.1 percent year on year. The figure accounted for 44.4 percent of the total passenger vehicle sales across the country, six percentage points higher from a year ago, which was close to the best record in history.

China’s new energy vehicle (NEV) industry has entered a new stage of accelerated development, Fu said, adding that the market penetration of NEVs stood at 13.4 percent in China, eight percentage points higher than that in the previous year.

The goal of lifting the figure to 20 percent in 2025 and 40 percent in 2030 is very likely to be achieved ahead of schedule, he said.

In 2021, China’s auto vehicle exports doubled to 2.02 million units, including 1.61 million passenger vehicles and 402,000 commercial vehicles. China’s annual vehicle exports usually stood at around one million units in the past decade, and this was the first time for the country to have breached the two-million-mark. Fu called the performance a historic progress that mirrored a tipping point in Chinese automakers’ overseas development.

All Chinese auto enterprises reported a rapid growth in exports over the last year. Four among the top ten exporters saw a growth of over 100 percent. A total of 310,000 Chinese NEVs were sold to foreign destinations in 2021, increasing threefold year on year.

The UK, Norway, Germany, France and other European countries are major sources of potential consumers of Chinese NEVs in the future.