Passenger vehicle exports, by both domestic and foreign companies, surged in the first four months of the year, according to the latest statistics.
From January to April, exports of sedans, sport-utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles, and minivans accelerated 24 percent from a year ago to 194,200 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Overall, automobile exports increased by a more modest 12.7 percent to 316,000 units during the same period, dragged down by a 1.7 percent dip in the exports of commercial vehicles, to 121,900 units.
“China has become an important passenger vehicle export hub,” said Namrita Chow, manager and senior analyst of consulting firm IHS Automotive.
“Chinese automakers are entering more small and emerging vehicle markets, and increasing overall total vehicle export volumes – but the longer-term aim is to export greater volumes to large markets.”
According to figures from IHS, Chinese passenger vehicle exporters continue to be led by local automakers Chery Automobile Co, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Great Wall Motor Co Ltd as they push sales in emerging markets.
In the first quarter, Chery exported 33,316 vehicles to more than 20 markets, including Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Egypt and Kenya.
Geely delivered 24,333 vehicles to more than 15 markets, including Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Great Wall exports reached more than 22 markets, including Algeria, Angola, Australia, Bolivia, Columbia, Kenya, Israel, Russia and Ukraine.
“This is similar to the top export destinations of Chinese automakers in 2012, where there is little competition from other major players,” Chow said.
Geely, which made its name globally by acquiring international car brand Volvo in 2010, exported more than 100,000 vehicles in 2012, with annual growth of 164 percent, the fastest growing export in China.
The company’s Vice-President Zhang Aiqun said that she hopes Geely’s exports can reach 200,000 units this year, though the company set a conservative target of 160,000 units earlier this year.
General Motors, the largest foreign automaker in China by sales, also sees China as one of its global manufacture bases.
“We are always looking for opportunities to sell our vehicles outside China with a focus on emerging markets,” said Bob Socia, president of General Motors China.
In 2012, General Motors ranked third in vehicle exports from China, with total deliveries of 77,000 vehicles.
In the first quarter of this year, its exports raced more than 60 percent to a record 25,000 units.
“We should finish the year with between 100,000 and 130,000 units,” Socia added.