Global Update

More Than Half of China's Imports Are SUVs—Get a Foothold in the Market


  SUVs accounted for 51.7% of all imports in China last year.

Registrations of imported cars in China surged 90.2% in 2010, according to the Japanese research company Fourin Inc., with imports topping 600,000 units last year.

SUVs accounted for 51.7% of all imports during that period, based on new-vehicle registration data, says Fourin’s China Automotive Intelligence Report No. 24, December, 2010. Why SUVs? “These models offer great performance on rough roads and higher safety than ordinary passenger cars,” says the report.

More than half the buyers of imported cars in China were young, rich men. Some 66.8% of the buyers were male; 88.3% used cash; more than 90% were private owners. Men in their 30s and younger accounted for 55% of the total, making China’s luxury-car purchase group the world’s youngest, according to Fourin. The largest portion of the imported cars—some 34.6%—cost more than 500,000 RMB ($75,900 USD).

Of China’s luxury-car consumers, Jenny Gu, a senior analyst with J.D. Power in Shanghai, told SEMA: “When demand becomes more diverse, some customers pursue trendy or niche markets. They like to be special, especially for those young elite or those who come back from foreign countries. They prefer import models. One reason is the design is the global trend. Also, there is a sense that the quality is better than locally produced models.”

Domestically, Chinese brands accounted for 31.7% of all units sold in 2010, taking top place. But that included more than a dozen local brands. Japanese brands, mainly Honda, Toyota and Nissan, accounted for 23.8% of all sales. European brands came in third at 22.7%; U.S. brands were fourth at 12.4%, according to J.D. Power.

By 2015, Chinese brands will account for 33.1% of the market; European brands 23.4%; Japanese brands 22.9%; and U.S. brands 12.0%, forecasts J.D. Power.

SEMA is organizing a trip to Beijing for member manufacturers to learn more about the Chinese market and the potential for their products. For more information or to sign up before the June 15 deadline, contact Linda Spencer at or visit