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China’s car exports reached 436,000 in August and reached 3.22 million units from January to August 2023

China’s automobile exports reached 436,000 units in August 2023, registering a year-on-year growth rate of 39%. From January to August 2023, China’s cumulative automobile exports reached an impressive 3.22 million units, with exports expanding at a remarkable rate of 65%. China has now surpassed Japan to become the world’s largest automobile exporter.

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In 2021, China’s automobile export sales reached 2.19 million units, marking a remarkable year-on-year increase of 102%. This was followed by another surge in 2022, with export sales reaching 3.4 million units, reflecting a year-on-year increase of 55%.

Year Export Volume / million Change
2013 0.95 -7%
2014 0.95 0%
2015 0.76 -20%
2016 0.81 8%
2017 1.06 31%
2018 1.17 6%
2019 1.24 6%
2020 1.08 -13%
2021 2.19 103%
2022 3.40 55%
China’s automobile export volume in the past ten years

Notably, the average export price of automobiles in the first eight months of 2023 has risen to 20,000 USD, slightly higher than the 18,000 USD observed in 2022. Considering that from January to August, the average price of China’s exported cars increased by more than 11% despite a 65% increase in quantity. Therefore, the total value of China’s automobile exports grew by approximately 85% during the same period.

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China’s automotive industry has made significant strides in the global export market in recent years. Since 2021, amid the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the production of automobiles in several countries experienced steep declines. During this period, Chinese automakers have expanded their market share, with China’s automotive export market demonstrating growth over the past three years.

China’s automotive export success story began with a strong presence in countries like Russia and some Latin American nations in the Americas. In 2022, China exported 160,000 units to Russia. From January to August 2023, China exported a staggering 544,000 units to Russia, representing an astonishing year-on-year increase of 664%. August 2023 alone saw China exporting 80,000 vehicles to Russia, demonstrating a remarkable year-on-year surge of 1,340%, although it recorded a month-on-month decline of 15% compared to July. The rise in exports, hefty trucks, and tractors has significantly driven this growth. Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have also become new focal points for China’s automobile exports.

On the other hand, China’s electric vehicles (EVs) have primarily found their way to Western European and Southeast Asian markets. Over the past two years, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom in Western and Southern Europe have become prominent export destinations. This year, exports to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand have shown increased strength. Self-owned brands like SAIC Passenger Cars and BYD have significantly contributed to the export of EVs. While exports of EVs to Europe experienced a temporary slowdown in August, they are expected to rebound soon.

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Country Export Volumn / thousand Share
Russia 544 16.9%
Mexico 257 8.0%
Belgium 155 4.8%
Australia 154 4.8%
Saudi Arabia 134 4.2%
UK 132 4.1%
Thailand 105 3.3%
Philippines 100 3.1%
UAE 98 3.0%
Spain 90 2.8%
Others 1,448 45.0%
China’s top 10 car export destinations from January to August 2023

However, China’s automobile exports to Europe may face potential challenges ahead. The European Commission recently disclosed plans to initiate a countervailing investigation into electric vehicles imported from China. Possible restrictive measures by the EU could increase the risks for Chinese car exports to Europe. There are concerns that such protective measures could weaken the innovation and competitiveness of local European companies.

China’s automobile exports have achieved remarkable growth, breaking the million-unit threshold in 2021 after several years of gradual progress. Following a significant decline during the global economic downturn from 2013 to 2016, export growth gradually stabilized and improved from 2017 to 2020, with annual export volumes remaining at approximately 1 million units. In 2020, exports reached 1.08 million units, marking a year-on-year decrease of 13%. The subsequent period was characterized by high growth.

Export volumes are expected to remain strong in 2023, maintaining the momentum observed in the fourth quarter of 2022. There are two main reasons: due to the sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia, China’s automobile exports to Russia will continue to grow. The other is that the global demand for EVs is growing, and China is a major producer of power batteries and EVs and will continue to export EV products to other markets.

Source: Cui Dongshu

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