Trio of troubles in slowing sales, excess capacity, rising competition

销售放缓,产能过剩,竞争加剧的三重困境

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About 300 robots assemble vehicles at a Beijing Hyundai Motor factory in Cangzhou, North China's Hebei Province in February 2017. Photo: VCG

2017年2月,约300名机器人在中国北方河北省沧州市的现代汽车厂组装汽车。

Prospects for China's automobile industry may be dim in 2018, given that sales have already slowed in recent months - and that's before a rise in the car purchase tax in the new year.

考虑到最近几个月汽车销售已经放缓,中国汽车工业的前景可能在2018年暗淡下来,而这是在新的一年汽车购置税增加之前。

"I'm not very optimistic about the prospects of the automobile market in 2018, particularly with a rebound of the car purchase tax and reduced subsidies for new-energy cars. But a plunge in sales is equally unlikely," Wu Shuocheng, a Shanghai-based independent analyst, told the Global Times on Monday.

“我对2018年汽车市场的前景并不乐观,特别是汽车购置税的反弹和新能源汽车补贴的减少,但是销量的下滑同样不太可能”,上海的吴硕成(音)独立分析师周一告诉环球时报。

In 2018, conditions will be about the same as this year or slightly worse, Wu noted, but there will still be some time until the market is "saturated."

他指出,到2018年,情况将与今年持平,或稍微恶化,但在市场“饱和”之前还有一段时间。

As of January 1, 2018, the purchase tax on 1.6L and lower-sized-engine passenger cars will be returned to 10 percent from the current 7.5 percent, according to a statement the Ministry of Finance released in December 2016.

根据财政部2016年12月发布的一份声明,2018年1月1日,对1.6L及更低的大小,发动机的乘用车购置税将从目前的7.5%恢复到10%。

Total vehicle sales in China rose 3.6 percent in the first 11 months, down 10.5 percentage points from the year-earlier period, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed. Even worse, the growth rate of passenger vehicle sales slowed to 1.9 percent from 15.6 percent the same period last year.

中国汽车工业协会(China Association of Automobile Manufacturers)的数据显示,今年前11个月,中国汽车总销量同比增长3.6%,较上年同期下降10.5个百分点。更糟糕的是,乘用车销量的增长率从去年同期的15.6%降至1.9%。

Sales of South Korean and French brands' passenger vehicles sank in the first 11 months of this year to 969,300 (down 38.2 percent) and 399,900 (down 28.2 percent).

今年前11个月,韩国和法国品牌的乘用车销量下降到969300辆(下降38.2%)和399,900辆(下降28.2%)。

Those slumps are seen by some industry observers as an early warning of broader problems for the industry, along with an increasingly fierce price war. Some even speak of "gray rhinos" lurking in China's vehicle sector in 2018.

一些业内观察人士认为,这些暴跌是行业面临的更广泛问题的预警信号,以及日益激烈的价格战。一些人甚至谈到了2018年中国汽车行业潜伏的“灰色犀牛”。

The term "gray rhino" was popularized by US policy analyst Michele Wucker in her 2016 book, The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, where she uses it to depict big, neglected dangers that are actually highly predictable.

“灰犀牛”一词在美国政策分析师Michele Wucker的2016年着作“灰犀牛:如何认识并行动我们忽略的明显危险” ,在那里她用它来描绘实际上高度可预测的大的,被忽视的危险。

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said some factors that are seen as potential risks, like price wars and an inventory buildup, have existed for quite some time and therefore cannot be deemed as "gray rhinos."

中国乘用车协会秘书长崔东舒说,价格战和库存积压等潜在风险已经存在了一段时间,因此不能被视为“灰犀牛”。

"In 2017, the flow of capital into the real estate market caused demand to decrease in the automobile market, which was a 'gray rhino' event. The impact from 'gray rhinos' on the car market was a little serious this year," Cui told the Global Times on Monday.

“2017年,资金进入房地产市场导致汽车市场需求下降,这是”灰犀牛“事件,今年”灰犀牛“对汽车市场的影响有点严重,”崔周一告诉环球时报。

He said the car market should even rebound a bit in 2018, particularly as the government still needs it to prop up the economy.

他表示,汽车市场在2018年甚至会反弹一点,特别是政府仍然需要它来支撑经济。

Some automakers have been introducing new models with lower prices, but a broad price decline is unlikely, according to experts.

一些汽车制造商已经推出价格较低的新车型,但是价格大幅下滑的可能性不大。

On Wednesday, Changan Automobile Co launched its latest models of the Raeton CC in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang Province, with sticker prices ranging from 89,900 yuan ($13,736) to 138,900 yuan. The price of Raeton CC is about 30,000 yuan less than that of the Geely-GC9, an automobile in the same class.

周三,长安汽车公司在中国浙江省东部的乌镇推出了最新型号的Raeton CC,标价从89,900元(13736元)至13.89万元不等。Raeton CC的价格比相同级别的汽车Geely-GC9少了三万元。

Beijing Hyundai Motor Co launched the next-generation ix35 in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, on November 15, at a price about 30,000 yuan less than the previous generation.

北京现代汽车公司于11月15日在广东省广州市启动下一代ix35,价格比上一代低3万元左右。

However, Cui said, there is no general downtrend in prices.

不过,崔表示,价格没有普遍的下降趋势。

But he noted that because of fierce competition and excess capacity in the industry, some smaller producers, such as certain private ones and weaker brands under some State-owned automakers, might be driven out of the market next year.

但他指出,由于行业竞争激烈,产能过剩,一些国有汽车企业的部分小生产企业,如某些民营企业和较弱的品牌,明年可能会被赶出市场。

China's vehicle industry will have overcapacity of 20 million units by 2020, according to domestic news site autoreport.cn.

据国内新闻网站autoreport.cn报道,到2020年,中国汽车产业将产能过剩2000万辆。

Of particular note, plenty of capital and other resources have been poured into the new-energy sector, but it's unclear whether there will be adequate production and practical benefits, Wu said.

他说,特别值得注意的是,大量资金和其他资源已经投入到新能源领域,但还不清楚是否有足够的生产和实际效益。

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