Recently we heard some rightfully deserved bragging by Buick that Buick's sales in China this year were higher than its US sales. China?
Okay, so I wondered: what's the top selling car in China, anyway? And what's the hottest car selling in Hong Kong?
Just what's going on in the Asian car market anyway and why should the US care? Well, there are two very good reasons.
The Asian car marketplace is inside the triangle formed by Australia to the south, Korea to the north, and India to the west. Inside that triangle are India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Australia.
Population is the first reason to pay attention to the Asian car market. It matters because more people = more car sales.
People generally know that China has the largest population of any country on the planet with 1.3 billion people. What you may not know is that India has just over 1 billion. The other 11 have a combined population of about 700 million. That's a total of 3 billion people.
No one can ignore a market of that size. It's certain that Asian car makers aren't ignoring their own market and neither are the Europeans. Some American brands aren't either, as seen by the fact that Buick sold more cars in China in 2006 than they sold in the US (listen up, Ford, Henry wasn't so myopic either).
Who makes the most money, according to the "purchasing power parity" per capita international standard? Hong Kong ($33.4k), followed by Australia ($30.9k) and with Japan ($30.6), just beating out Singapore (at $28.3k). Okay, compare that to the US per capita wealth of $41.4k. Yeah, the US is ahead, but not by all that much. So, if US residents can have two or three cars per family, then why not Asia?
Okay, Asia has people and Asia has money. So what are they buying?
What is the hottest selling car in Hong Kong (and everywhere else)? Here's the scoop from Segment Y, a Dutch company that monitors vehicle sales in the emerging Asian marketplace...
The top car in Taiwan? Toyota's Corolla with a 9.4% market share there. That shouldn't be a surprise. The model is known worldwide for its high reliability and high miles per gallon. 30 million have been sold since its launch in 1966. Corollas are currently manufactured in Japan, the United States (Fremont, California), the United Kingdom (Sunderland), Canada (Cambridge, Ontario), Malaysia, China (Tianjin), Taiwan, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and India.
The hottest car in Hong Kong? The Corolla again, with a 5.2% market share. Singapore: Toyota Corolla (11.9%). Thailand: Toyota Soluna Vios (25.1%). Indonesia: Toyota Innova (25.0%). Phillipines: Toyota Vios (22.0%). Vietnam: Toyota Zace (19.1%) . Hong Kong: Toyota Corolla (5.2%). Taiwan: Toyota Corolla (9.4%). Japan: Toyota (31.7%). Coincidence? Hardly.
Here's the breakdown for the biggest players in the region:
China: Tianjin Xiali with 6.2% of the market. 6.2% doesn't seem like much, but also consider the fact that there are over a hundred motor vehicle manufacturers in China now. Most of the multinational car makers are building in China too, with sedans by Honda, GM minivans and Toyota suv's. With a billion-person market to split up, it's no wonder.
And then there's India. Here the Maruti Alto has a16.8% market share. In fact, different Maruit models (there are eleven) take 4 of the top 6 India market spots. With a rising economy and a rising demand for automobiles, it's no wonder the market for new car sales is rising too. Most of the multinational players are joining the sales fray.
So what's going on in the Asian car market? They're building, selling and driving new cars. Oh yeah, and there's another reason US car makers should care. Actually, 3 billion of them. But if they don't get their "US act" together, it won't matter. Oh yeah, one other thing, even China has lemon law. Granted it's not as strong as US lemon laws, but it's a start.