During the past few years, exports of passenger vehicles from China have quietly been making gains, with total exports quadrupling from just 100,000 units in 2009 to more than 400,000 units in 2011. China’s exports are forecast to surpass 1 million units annually by 2019, according to LMC Automotive. China’s export performance in 2011 made it the fourth-largest exporting nation in Asia, behind Japan, Korea and Thailand.
China’s Auto Exports Grow More Slowly due to Local Market, Quality Issues
While China has been the center of production and exports for many of the world’s goods, the export of vehicles has not been as prominent. There are several reasons why auto exports have lagged: First, because the Chinese domestic market has been growing at such an unprecedented pace, automakers with local production have focused on capturing and building their share of the local market; and secondly, the quality of Chinese-made vehicles has needed to become more competitive with global quality standards.
The majority of vehicle exports from China today are of Chinese-branded vehicles, and their primary export destinations are emerging markets in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Imports Climb at Significant Rate in China
Despite relatively high duties, imports of passenger vehicles have also continued to climb in China, more than doubling from 380,000 vehicles in 2009 to more than 840,000 vehicles in 2011, and climbing to 1.8 million vehicles by 2019, according to LMC Automotive. The vast majority of passenger vehicles are luxury passenger cars and SUVs from Germany, Japan and the United States, whose wealthy buyers are not deterred by the vehicle’s combination of high retail price and high import duty.—Tim Dunne, director of global coordination at J.D. Power and Associates