Australians are buying more cars made in China in 2020 than any other time in our automotive history.
Official sales figures compiled by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry (FCAI) show Chinese brands LDV, Haval, MG and Great Wall sold a record number of new vehicles up to the end of November 2020, despite a shrinking car market due primarily to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Combined, all four marques have sold 25,838 vehicles so far in 2020 – accounting for a 3.2 per cent share of the Australian new-car market.
MG, Australia's best-selling Chinese manufacturer, shifted 13,329 vehicles year-to-date, an increase of 75.2 per cent over the 7606 figure posted over the same period in 2019, despite an overall 16 per cent market slump.
Above: MG's first electric vehicle, the ZS EV.
Much of that growth can be attributed to the MG 3 city car which, despite being eight years old, has risen rapidly in popularity throughout 2020 – up 76.5 per cent year-to-date – thanks to buyers' thirst for affordable, private motoring during the pandemic, and the hefty cost increases incurred by updated versions of its light hatch rivals, including the Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2.
MG sales have also seen a boost thanks to the arrival of the HS early in 2020 – which falls into the highly-competitive medium SUV segment – which has grown to account for 17.9 per cent of total MG sales.
Following close behind in 18th place is LDV, which has notched up 7924 sales to the end of November 2020, across its ute, van and SUV range – up 32.7 per cent over the same period last year.
Leading the charge is the LDV T60 four-wheel-drive ute (below), sales of which are up 45.2 per cent year-to-date thanks to an expanded range and sharp pricing, with the model now accounting for nearly 60 per cent of overall LDV sales.
SUV-only brand Haval shifted 2894 units to the end of November 2020, up 88.9 per cent year-to-date, despite an ageing portfolio and no new models confirmed to be in the pipeline for 2021.
Great Wall rounds out the pack, selling 1691 examples year-to-date of its sole model, the ageing Steed ute – up 29.3 per cent.
While Steed sales may trail behind those of the dual-cab segment leaders – Toyota shifting three times as many HiLux utes in one month – the brand's sales should soon receive a boost with the arrival of the new 'GWM Ute', which packages advanced safety technology (including a centre airbag, all-but-mandatory for a five-star ANCAP rating in 2020) with a sharp starting price.
The Chinese quartet recorded notable sales increases despite a slowing new-car market, with sales down 16 per cent due to lingering slowdowns from previous years, and the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Few other brands have posted year-to-date sales increases – these consist of Audi (up 2.6 per cent), Daf (4.1 per cent), Fuso (2.4 per cent), Genesis (82.7 per cent), Hyundai Commercial Vehicles (29.9 per cent), International (6.5 per cent), Mercedes-Benz Vans (3.0 per cent), Ram (18.5 per cent) and SsangYong (80.4 per cent).