Light vehicle sales rise 7.3% in 2015

Chinese vehicle deliveries rose to 21.1m cars last year as a late surge lifted sales

New car lot in China

Light vehicles in waiting Image: TTAC

In December, light vehicle sales increased 18% to 2.44 million units due to a purchase tax cut on small cars, acccording to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers(CAAM).

Total sales for the year increased despite a stock market rout and car purchase restrictions being placed on seven major cities.

CAAM estimates these additional factors erased a further two million potential deliveries.

Nevertheless, the tax cut on vehicles fitted with smaller engines helped drive new sales, particularly in the crossover market. In 2015 sales of SUVs and crossovers rose 52% to 6.22m units.

Their gain came at the expense of compact sedans and microvan sales, which both saw sales decrease by 5.3% to 11.7m and 18% to 1.1m units, respectively. Sales of commercial trucks also slowed.

It was in this fashion that VW lost the top spot as China's largest automaker to GM for the first time in three years. Having gained the crown in 2013, the German carmaker failed to respond quickly to rising demand for crossovers and shifting consumer tastes.

GM has several R&D facilities in and around China that allowed it to quickly adapt to shifting consumer trends, whereas all VW cars produced for the Chinese market were designed in Germany. GM launched four new crossovers over the last two years while VW has only two in its range.