6 May 20

China is doing better, Tesla is doing great

The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) has published its March sales and production figures. China has been out of lockdown for a few weeks, but have car sales really taken up again?

Global sales figures

We are starting to understand the impact of the pandemic on vehicle sales. Data intelligence company Jato released the March global numbers and registers a decrease of 39% compared to the 2019 figures, landing at 5.55 million units. The decline exceeds the worst results of the global financial crisis (GFC), a decade ago, when a 25% decrease was noted.

The situation however is not only worse from a sales performance point of view. The automotive industry was, already before the pandemic, struggling with several new realities: trade wars, emission regulations and an overall economic slow-down. It is uncertain what the “post-corona normal” will look like.


In the meanwhile, 848.800 vehicles were sold in Europe during the month of March. Electric Vehicles booked a record market share of 17.4%, up from 7% in March 2019. The Tesla Model 3 was the second-best selling car in Europe (15.502 units), right behind the all-time-favorite Volkswagen Golf (23.757 units) and ahead of typical Golf-challenger Ford Focus (14.587 units).

Meanwhile in China

February was China’s worst month, with a decrease of 79% in car sales compared to 02/2019. March announced better and delivered on its promises: the market grew by 427% and the absolute number of 1.08m units is “only” 40% worse than March 2019 (source: CPCA).

The results of EV manufacturer Tesla were, also in China, remarkable, with a record number of 10,160 units (according to Tesla). The brand started production in its Shanghai plant only a few months ago (December 2019) and sales have been good ever since. Tesla will however have to cope with the redesigned governmental EV subsidy scheme, that provides incentives only for vehicles sold below 300.000 yuan – about 10% below Tesla’s base model window sticker price.

Overall, CPCA predicts an upwards trend of car sales, even if 2020 will not perform as well as the previous years.

Picture copyright: Shutterstock. 

Authored by: Yves Helven