Volkswagen Leads China Car Sales

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German automaker Volkswagen‘s U.S. sales have been awful and heading toward miserable for over a year now. But the story is very different in China, where VW sells more cars than any other maker — a lot more.

China’s April sales data was reported Thursday by auto industry research firm focus2move, based on data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The April data is the most recent available.

Total sales by all carmakers in April came in at 364,886, up 16.4% year-over-year. Year-to-date sales total 1.98 million, up 9.7% from a year ago. Focus2move noted that more Chinese cities will be adopting restrictions on car ownership to help reduce China’s air pollution problems and that current strong sales are coming in advance of those restrictions.

VW sold fewer than 31,000 units in the United States in April, a drop of 8.4% year-over-year and down 2.6% from March. In China, VW sold 251,009 units in April and has 11.3% of the total Chinese market. VW’s sales in China in April were nearly equal to the total of 254,076 vehicles General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sold in the United States in the same month.

Nine of China’s top 20 selling models carry a Volkswagen badge. No other automaker is even close.

The second best-selling brand was China’s own Wuling, with sales of 139,600 in April. GM’s joint venture with Wuling produces the Hongguang minivan, the best-selling car in China and the fourth best-selling car in the world. Wuling claims a 7% share of the Chinese market. Wuling and GM sold 60,009 Hongguang vehicles in April.

The fourth and fifth best-selling brands were Hyundai and Nissan with 4.8% and 3.8% market share, respectively.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) was the sixth best-selling brand in China in April, with 81,807 unit sales. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) claimed seventh place in the April rankings with sales of 69,506 units and a market share of 3.2%. Year to date, however, Ford’s sales place it in fifth place.

GM’s Buick cars were the eighth best-seller in April, with total sales of 68,844. For the year to date, Buick is the fifth best-selling vehicle in China, and the Buick Excelle was the third best-selling model in April, with sales of 42,235 units.

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