German carmaker Volkswagen said yesterday that it sold almost 53,000 cars in China in September, its best monthly performance over the past 12 months in the world's third largest car market.
Its sales last month increased by more than 20 percent from August, much stronger than the average growth rate of the whole Chinese auto market which is estimated at about 10 percent, Volkswagen said in a statement to China Daily.
"With an estimated increase in the market share from 17 percent in August to 19 percent in September, the Volkswagen Group further strengthened its position as a market leader in China's automobile industry," said Winfried Vahland, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
The carmaker said its sales in China in the first nine months of this year reached 407,570 units.
Volkswagen said it expects its sales in China during the second half of this year will outperform the number of 265,000 cars achieved in the first half.
The group has been the No 1 carmaker in China for two decades. It runs two car joint ventures with China's top two carmakers - Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) and First Automotive Works Corp.
However, Volkswagen's leadership in China has faced great challenges from US and Asian rivals, such as General Motors (GM), Honda and Hyundai whose sales are growing rapidly with new models.
Volkswagen's share in China's car market declined to 25.2 percent last year from 30.8 percent in 2003.
GM's joint venture with SAIC has risen to the biggest single Sino-foreign car venture this year.
The venture of GM said that it sold 31,719 cars in September and over 220,000 units in the first three quarters of this year.
Volkswagen has stressed that it is the sole carmaker in China that started to report retail sales, instead of sales to dealers.
"With increasingly diversified and mature automotive needs of the Chinese customers, the success of the Volkswagen and Audi brand will rely on the positioning accuracy and fulfilment of demands of specific customer segments based on their psychological values and lifestyle, in addition to traditional social demographics and affordability," said Weiming Soh, vice-president of sales and marketing of the Volkswagen Group China.
For the first time, Volkswagen has identified at least 48 customer segments in the entire car market in China, which is now closer to the more developed European and American markets, Soh said.
(China Daily October 12, 2005)