After everyone was happy in January, the auto market in February, still immersed in the atmosphere of the Spring Festival, ushered in a fierce price war and staged a dramatic auto market drama.

In this way, independent car companies have shown people their firm determination to continue to "conquer" the market.

In January, the market share of Chinese brand passenger cars historically exceeded the 60% mark, which is another remarkable achievement achieved by independent car companies.

  However, it should be noted that the fierce price war has brought increasing pressure to all participants. While joint venture car companies are struggling to fight, they are also using their own characteristics to gain time and accumulate strength.

Therefore, while independent car companies continue to expand their market share, they may also wish to adjust their pace and prepare for new competition in the future.

  Welcome to January with a “good start”

  In the first month of 2024, the auto market is off to a good start.

  According to data released by the Passenger Car Association, in January this year, retail sales in the passenger car market reached 2.035 million units, a year-on-year increase of 57.4%.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association, analyzed that the auto market retail sales in January achieved the expected "good start" trend. The important factor for the high year-on-year growth was the consumption peak brought by the Spring Festival.

It should be noted that this year’s Spring Festival falls in early February, half a month later than last year, leaving a complete pre-holiday car buying month for the market.

  All major mainstream car companies have reported brilliant results.

Judging from the January retail sales rankings, BYD continues to consolidate its top position, with retail sales exceeding 300,000 vehicles in January, a year-on-year increase of 34.2%.

Whether in terms of total volume or growth rate, BYD's market position is unshakable.

  What’s even more striking is that Changan and Geely took advantage of the situation to achieve retail sales of nearly 190,000 vehicles in January, pushing the joint venture car companies out of the top three seats in the sales list. This is also the first time that an independent car company has achieved Such achievements.

  Of course, compared with sales in previous years, the performance of joint venture car companies is not bad.

FAW-Volkswagen increased by 45.4% year-on-year, achieving sales of 162,000 vehicles. SAIC Volkswagen also sold 115,000 vehicles, an increase of 42.7% over the same period last year. Dongfeng Honda even recorded a super high year-on-year growth rate of 217.1%.

  With sales of nearly 70,000 vehicles, BMW Brilliance has become the only luxury car company in the top ten of the retail sales list. The fact that luxury car companies can be seen in the top ten list shows that consumption in the high-end segment is also hot.

Data from the China Automobile Association can also support this. Looking at the performance of each class of vehicles, C-class cars (medium and large cars) have the highest growth rate, reaching 1.4 times, and sales that month are mainly concentrated in B-class cars (medium-sized cars). Total sales were close to 250,000 vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 96.2%.

  These data all show that the auto market in January is not only "larger in volume" but also "better in quality", and is off to a good start in the new year.

  Based on this, the industry generally believes that the auto market has had a good start this year, and there is no problem in achieving a "good start" in auto sales not only in January but also in the entire first quarter.

  Price war begins in February

  However, in February, just after the Spring Festival, the market situation suddenly changed.

It seems that car companies have no intention of "waiting" for a good start in the first quarter. At the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, a new round of price war will begin immediately.

  The leader is BYD again.

On February 19, BYD launched the slogan "Electricity is lower than oil" and simultaneously launched two Honor Edition models of Qin PLUS DM-i and Destroyer 05 DM-i.

Both new cars are plug-in hybrid cars. The version with a pure electric range of 55 kilometers starts at only 79,800 yuan, lowering the entry price of compact new energy cars to less than 80,000 yuan.

  The air of the New Year is not only filled with the smell of gunpowder from firecrackers, but also mixed with the smell of gunpowder from the price war in the car market.

  However, the first thing to fight is not the joint venture car companies, nor the fuel vehicle products, but the new energy models of Changan Automobile, which is also an independent car company.

  Later on the same day, Changan's compact plug-in hybrid sedan Qiyuan A05 announced that it would lower the price to 78,900 yuan.

In the poster announcing the price reduction, Changan Qiyuan typed the words "Sword Points to the Dynasty", which did not seem to conceal the pertinence of this move.

Beiqing Automobile noticed that before BYD’s price cut, the Qiyuan A05 priced at 89,900 yuan was the lowest priced compact new energy sedan on the market.

  The "war" escalated rapidly.

On the same day, Zhou Ling, deputy general manager of the SAIC-GM-Wuling Brand Division, said on his social media: "One word, follow." Subsequently, SAIC-GM-Wuling announced that the price of the advanced version of the Wuling Starlight new energy plug-in hybrid model would be adjusted from 105,800 yuan to 105,800 yuan. 99,800 yuan, and the price dropped to less than 100,000 yuan.

  Geely Automobile has launched the Geely Emgrand L HiP "Dragon Edition" model, with a starting price of 89,800 yuan, which is 20,000 yuan lower than the original entry-level model.

  Among the new power brands, Nezha Automobile officially announced price cuts for many of its main models.

Among them, the price of the entire Nezha X series has been reduced by up to 22,000 yuan, the price of the entire Nezha AYA series has been reduced by 8,000 yuan, and the price of the entire Nezha S series has been reduced by 5,000 yuan.

  The "war" has even spread to the luxury car sector.

On February 22, Cadillac announced the launch of the new CT5, priced as low as 219,700 yuan.

  The rapid start and escalation of the price war has made the industry realize the fierce competition in this year's auto market again.

On the 19th, Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association, issued a statement stating that 2024 is a critical year for new energy vehicle companies to gain a foothold, and the price war will still be fierce.

Just as BYD started one round of price wars that year with a series of "Champion Edition" models at the beginning of 2023, after the launch of the "Glory Edition" models this time, BYD is likely to have more "back-up players" to follow up. Competitors can only choose as Zhou Ling said: follow.

  Don’t get caught up in “positional warfare”

  Whether it is the "good start" in January or the price war that started in February, independent car companies have taken the lead.

Especially in the new energy vehicle market, BYD has shown the momentum of fighting for every inch of land, and other independent car companies have responded with their determination to not give up an inch of land. While each showing their own talents, they have made joint venture cars that are no longer technologically leading The enterprise became a victim.

The independent car companies are conquering cities and occupying territory, and the market share is increasing and decreasing, showing people a new market pattern that is different from the past.

  According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, a total of 1.278 million Chinese brand passenger cars were sold in January, a year-on-year increase of 68.6%, accounting for 60.4% of the total passenger car sales, and the share increased by 8.8 percentage points from the same period last year - this is an independent The market share of car companies in the passenger car market exceeded 60% for the first time.

Correspondingly, joint venture car companies continue to shrink.

Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows that in terms of brand country, the market share of brands in major countries is declining.

  However, it should be noted that the increase in the market share of independent car companies is accompanied by price wars year after year, and the fierce price wars bring additional pressure to all participants.

  As the offensive party, independent car companies use their price advantages to erode the market share of joint venture car companies little by little, fighting a "positional war."

Data from the Passenger Car Association shows that in recent years, the profits of the automobile industry have declined significantly, and the pressure on automobile companies to make profits has increased sharply.

Compared with the level in 2015, the profit margin of the automobile industry has fallen by 3.7 percentage points in 2023.

  On the other hand, joint venture car companies backed by multinational automobile groups are using mobile warfare to buy time and accumulate strength for subsequent counterattacks. From a global market perspective, despite poor performance in the Chinese market, some multinational automobile groups Still able to maintain good performance.

  Hyundai Motor Group recently released data stating that the group’s operating profit will hit a record high in 2023.

Among them, Hyundai Motor's annual operating profit exceeded 80 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 54%; Kia Motors' operating profit exceeded 62.4618 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 60.5%.

Stellantis Group, which has actively promoted "light assets" in China in recent years, recorded a net profit of more than 140 billion yuan in 2023, setting a record high. The in-depth cooperation with Leapmotor in 2023 shows that Stellantis's commitment to the Chinese automobile market The ambition is still not small.

  Therefore, while moving forward step by step, how to avoid being entangled in the "positional war" that consumes profits, and even missing opportunities for future competition, is also an issue that independent car companies need to consider more.