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China's Auto Imports May Drop 10% In 2009

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Shanghai, January 8, 2009: ( Amid the lingering global financial crisis, China's auto imports may drop 10% to 360,000 units in 2009, said China Business Times today, citing an industry report.

According to the report released by an auto import forum held on Jan. 6, China imported about 400,000 vehicles in 2008, a rise of 27% over last year. SUV models and 3.0L-minus vehicles contributed most to the growth. Sedans and 4.0L-plus vehicles saw the biggest drop in the imports. In September when the financial crisis emerged, the growth of car imports began to slow down.

The report forecasts that China's auto imports in 2009 will see no growth and may drop by 10 to 360,000 vehicles because of the spillover of the global financial crisis into the new year. And there several factors that will affect the country's auto imports, such as the economic climate, exchange rate fluctuations, and market demand, industry executives said.

The market demand is closely related to the economic development. "When the global financial crisis is pervading further into every corner of the world economies, China's economic growth will continue its slowdown in 2009, which will hold little hope of growth in the auto market," noted Ding Hongxiang, president of China Trading Center for Automobile Import.

If the central and local governments introduce more incentive policies and their stimulus investment can be fulfilled, the imported car market is likely to see smaller drop. Small-car models of low emissions will be more welcome in the market, and many Chinese automakers have also realized this trend.

The exchange rate also influences the auto imports. The Chinese yuan has appreciated significantly since July 2008 against the U.S. dollar and other currencies. This will continue to affect the exchange rate costs and even competitiveness of imported cars.

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