Automotive Blog

Customs data show China exported 264,000 vehicles in January–April, Iran top destination




Chinese passenger vehicle exports continued to increase in the first four months of 2017, with both Chinese Customs Data and CAAM data showing double-digit percentage growth.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Significance: The biggest export destination for vehicles built in China during the first four months of 2017 was Iran, followed by Chile and the United States.
  • Implications: Iran maintained its very strong lead as the top destination for Chinese exports during the period, with local automakers Chery, Brilliance, JAC, and Dongfeng Motor the leading passenger vehicle exporters to that market.
  • Outlook: International automakers are increasingly planning to use production bases in China for exports to markets such as the United States; General Motors exported 12,774 units from China in the first four months of 2017.

In the first four months of 2017, vehicle exports from China totalled 264,012 units, according to Chinese Customs Data (CCD). This was up 24.57% year on year (y/y) from 211,945 units in the same period of 2016. Meanwhile, export data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) state that automotive enterprises exported 245,000 units from China in January–April, an increase of 29.0% y/y. The CCD data cover vehicles that have actually left Chinese ports, while the CAAM data refer to those vehicles allocated for export by automakers in China. The CCD data detail exports by automaker and destination, but do not include model-level information. The CAAM data do provide model-level export data, but do not show destinations.

Iran top export destination

The CCD data show that in the January–April period, Iran was the largest single export destination for Chinese-built vehicles, with a total of 78,913 units exported there. This marked an increase of 141.5% y/y from the 32,672 units exported to Iran in the same period a year earlier.

Chile was the second largest export destination for Chinese-built vehicles in the first four months of the year, with 18,103 units exported there, up 65.79% y/y. The United States came third with 16,337 units, up 149.8% from 6,540 units in January–April 2016. Vietnam was next with 15,916 units in the period, up from just 1,564 units exported in the same period a year earlier. In fifth spot was Peru with 9,656 units, up from 7,318 units in the same period a year earlier. In total, in the January–April period, vehicles from China were exported to more than 150 destinations, with only the top four destinations receiving volumes of more than 10,000 units. The top 40 destinations all received volumes of more than 1,000 units during the period.

The CCD data also highlight that of the 264,012 units exported from China in the first four months of the year, 167,734 units were passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicle exports from China therefore accounted for 63.53% of the total. The automaker with the highest export volumes during the period was Chery Automobile with 38,992 units. In second spot was Shanghai General Motors (SGM) with 26,692 units exported, followed by Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Company (JAC) with 17,606 units. In fourth spot was Brilliance Auto with 16,711 units exported, while Dongfeng Motor was fifth with 9,507 passenger vehicles exported in the first four months of 2017.

Outlook and implications

Chinese vehicle exports are continuing to grow. According to the CCD data, passenger vehicle exports rose 65.6% y/y to 167,734 units in January–April, up from 101,288 units in the same period of 2016.

The CCD data show that in the first four months of the year, Chery's top export market was Iran, exporting a total of 24,102 units there. It was followed by Chile with 2,948 units and then Russia with 2,711 units. In total, Chery exported models to 24 markets in the period, but only seven of these received more than 1,000 units from the automaker. Meanwhile, SGM's top export destination in the first four months of this year was the United States, with a total of 12,774 units exported to that market. This was followed by Colombia, to which the automaker exported 5,520 units, and then Chile (4,209 units). In total, SGM exported vehicles to 10 markets in the period. For the third biggest exporter, JAC, the top export destination during January–April was Iran, to which it exported 12,483 units. This was followed by Chile with 1,700 units and then Brazil with 813 units. JAC exported to 31 markets in the period, although only two received volumes of more than 1,000 units from the automaker.

Both the CCD and the CAAM data show strong double-digit percentage growth in Chinese passenger vehicle exports during the first four months of 2017. Automakers are increasingly looking to export models from China to other destinations, with Ford the latest to announce plans to do so with the new Focus. This follows in the footsteps of GM, which exports the Envision sport utility vehicle from China. In 2016, total passenger vehicle exports from China hit 422,583 units, the CCD show, marking a 13.47% y/y increase, with Iran the top destination followed by the United States.

About this article

The above article is from AutoIntelligence Daily by IHS Markit. AutoIntelligence Daily provides same-day analysis of automotive news, events and trends.​​ Get a free trial.

About The Author

Ms. Namrita Chow is Principal Analyst at IHS Markit for the China automotive market.

With over a decade in China, she has firsthand knowledge of the market, the players and the many nuances. Her expertise has helped in forecasting trends, whether within the domestic Chinese automotive market or linked to Chinese vehicle exports in other markets. She has authored special reports as well as daily news analysis, focusing on the intricacies of the vehicle market in China and is available to speak on subjects relating to the Chinese vehicle market. Ms. Chow’s education includes a Post Graduate Certificate in Economics and Math and a Master of Science degree in Advanced Macroeconomics and Mathematics from the University of London, U.K., as well as two years of intensive Mandarin at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.​