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China Sells More Cars than the U.S.

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on February 11, 2009

China Sells More Cars than the U.S.

Chalk up yet another humiliation for Detroit: China’s 730,000 vehicles sold in January, exceeded the 656,976 sold in the U.S., making the Middle Kingdom the largest auto market in the world last month. While no-one can deny what a major milestone thatis, it may say more about the desperate straits American automakers are in, than it does about the strength of the Chinese market. While outselling the U.S. should make Chinese auto executives proud, it doesn’t alter the fact that China’s overcrowded auto market is facing a very rough road ahead. Indeed, the market contracted in January year on year by 14.4%, though that looks mild compared to the 37% plunge in vehicle sales in the U.S.

How long China can hang onto its lead remains to be seen if you consider the latest trade figures. Exports plunged 17.5% in January year on year, on top of much smaller contractions in December and November. Chinese consumers are tight with their money at the best of times, and with the global tsunami washing over Chinese shores now too, people are even less likely to open their wallets than before.

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Reader Comments

James Mason

February 11, 2009 06:05 PM

The difference is that China's state-owned banks have been ORDERED by the central government to LEND, LEND, LEND! If this works, it might be a good argument for NATIONALIZING the banking system in America.


February 12, 2009 03:26 AM

is it good news? with the growing market share of car industry,i hope the industry will do more contribution in environmental pretection.


February 12, 2009 06:59 AM

Quantity is one measure, value is another. I'm not implying I know the answer (because I do not), I'm merely curious what the sales numbers are in terms of cash spent as a comparison for the US and China.


February 12, 2009 09:25 AM

As a concerned Chinese American, I'd consider this as a bad news for the future of China. World's largest car market is something China doesn't need. America has already proved that auto industry has brought more problems than its benefits here in today global warming and energy crisis. What China needs is to improve its mass transportation so ordinary Chinese people don't have to stand in an overly crowded train more than 30 hours just to get back home during the Spring festival. That is if they could first get a ticket!


February 12, 2009 09:33 AM

James Mason,

You are wrong. 80% of cars sold in China are paid by cash!!!. Chinese are still not used to taking loans or mortgage.


February 12, 2009 06:19 PM

Yes i do agree with (Mr.Peace4all1)China needs to improve it's transportation rather than it's car sales. Auto industry is a bubble and definitely it will burst one day..So developing economies like China should learn from the mistakes of US and Europe.

Rich NY

February 13, 2009 09:47 AM

Concerned Chinese American as well. This means more highway infrastructure projects. Why can't we go with a 10 man bicycle?
Drive safely Mr. Middle Kingdom.
Lead the way for East Asia.

Quality is important.


February 13, 2009 10:49 AM

This sales number only shows that the US is in a bigger trouble compared with China. China is still in a good shape..

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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