Global Update

Chinese Market Hitting Strikingly Close to U.S. Passenger-Vehicle Sales

Despite reports from the Chinese media that vehicle sales in China surpassed those in the United States for the first time in January 2009, a SEMA analysis reveals that Americans still buy more cars, but that Chinese sales are nearly equal to U.S. sales for the first month of 2009.

According to a J.D. Power and Associates report, U.S. automobile sales took a deep hit and sales fell 37% in January 2009. China was only slightly more than 60% of the vehicle sales in comparison to the United States from data presented in January 2008. One year later, China is reaching 93% of total U.S. vehicle sales (see table below for statistics in detail). Data used in Chinese press reports compared U.S. passenger vehicle sales with all Chinese vehicle sales, including commercial vehicles.


Total Passenger Sales, January 2008 
U.S.: 1,042,405
China: 661,938
Total imported vehicle sales in China (passenger and commercial): 29,548

Total Passenger Sales, January 2009
U.S.: 655,302
China: 610,600
Total imported vehicle sales in China (passenger and commercial): 23,405

CAAM (China Automobile Association Manufacturer) confirmed that based on the 610,600 of all passenger vehicles in China sold in January 2009, 439,000 were passenger sedans; 129,300 were crossovers; 30,200 were SUVs; and 11,900 were MPVs. These numbers include all makes of vehicles sold in China which are produced domestically.

An additional 23,405 vehicles were imported into China in January 2009, though this number includes both passenger and commercial vehicles. These numbers portray the growing economic life and high demand in vehicles among consumers in the Middle Kingdom.

SEMA members can reference the China Report at

For more information or questions regarding vehicle sales in China, please contact Yvonne Wang at

Sources: CAAM (China Automobile Association Manufacturer); General Administration Customs of P.R. of China; J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Sales Report for January 2009