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Automotive industry in China: imports and exports - statistics & facts

China has remained the world’s largest light vehicle manufacturer for more than a decade. In 2019, China accounted for nearly 30 percent of global vehicle production. However, only around three percent of passenger cars produced in China were exported. In 2018, China generated approximately 15.7 billion U.S dollars from its car exports, accounting for 0.6 percent of the total export value that year. The number of exported vehicles fluctuated widely in the past ten years but haven’t seen a breakthrough. The major obstacles Chinese enterprises encountered were the saturated market and shifting foreign trade policies.

Nevertheless, the automotive export industry in China still has great potential. Driven by the export of new energy cars, China opened up a more extensive market in developed countries. In the first three quarters of 2020, Europe overtook South America to become the second-largest overseas market of China’s automotive export. On the other hand, China grew to be one of the top exporters of vehicle parts. In 2018, China sold around 11.7 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of motor vehicle parts to the United States.

This vastly populous nation has also seen a growing demand for luxury cars in recent years and attracts business from many foreign carmakers. In 2019, China imported motor vehicles at a value of over 24 billion euros from Germany, making it Germany’s second-largest car importer, only second to the United States. Car manufacturers in Japan and the United States are also exporting in mass to China. Mercedes-Benz, the most popular exporter of brand cars to China, sold nearly 150 thousand vehicles to Chinese consumers in 2018.

The topics automobile sales in China and automobile manufacturing industry in China are presented in separate dossiers.

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Automobile import and export in China

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