Last year Australians bought more cars made in China than any other time in our motoring history.
- shares

Amid an overall market slump Australians bought a record number of Chinese cars for the second year in a row in 2020, according to official figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

A total of 30,696 cars made in China were reported as sold in Australia last year, an increase of 70.9 per cent compared to the prior year when the previous record of 17,957 were reported as sold.

Former British brand MG, which was bought by Chinese car giant SAIC in 2007, posted by far the biggest gains among its counterparts.

After returning to Australia in 2017 under new ownership, MG sales have skyrocketed from 3000 deliveries in 2018, 8300 sales in 2019, to a record 15,253 vehicles reported as sold in 2020, an increase of 83.2 per cent year-on-year.

The 2020 result means MG has almost doubled its sales in the past two years.

China’s ute and van specialist, LDV, meanwhile, also posted strong sales gains, with its biggest annual result locally in seven years – and an all-time record month in December, with 1399 vehicles reported as sold.

Indeed, LDV eclipsed its previous annual sales record within the first 10 months of 2020, and reported 9323 cars as sold for the full year.

The jointly owned Great Wall Motors and Haval appear to have finally found momentum after switching from an independent distributor to a factory-direct operation five years ago.

Sales of Great Wall vehicles increased steadily last year, ahead of the arrival of a new generation ute which is due in showrooms early 2021, while its SUV sister brand Haval has almost doubled sales over the same period (see table below).

While none of the Chinese brands are yet in the Top 10, industry analysts believe MG will be first to eclipse that mark some time in the next two to three years.

MG has already appointed some former Holden dealerships across Australia as part of its aggressive growth plans, and may add more retail outlets this year.

Its 2020 result ranked MG in 17th place outright, behind Suzuki, Audi, Holden and Isuzu – and ahead of LDV, Lexus and Volvo.

The popularity of Chinese cars has increased despite political tensions, and restrictions placed on some Australian exports.

As with cars from Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the US, vehicles from China attract zero import tariff. However vehicles from the European Union and the UK still attract a 5 per cent import tariff.

While China has dramatically increased the number of new cars it sells in Australia after eclipsing 30,000 deliveries for the first time, 2020 figures show Australia's biggest source countries for new motor vehicles remain Japan (309,601), Thailand (213,456), South Korea (123,725), Germany (58,558), and the US (33,731).

If current sales trends continue, the number of Chinese cars sold in Australia in 2021 could overtake the number of new motor vehicles sourced from the USA.

YearMGLDVGreat WallHavalChina (includes other brands)

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.