SHANGHAI, China — China's auto exports soared in the first 10 months of the year, according to Commerce Ministry figures, but revenues from passenger car sales overseas are lagging due to falling prices, reports said Wednesday.
China exported a total of 413,500 complete finished vehicles _ including cars, buses and trucks _ in the first 10 months of the year, up 64 percent over the same period of 2006. Exported vehicle sales totaled $4.8 billion, an increase of 117 percent year-on-year, the Commerce Ministry said in a report on its Web site.
The bulk of Chinese auto exports go to developing nations such as Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan.
The volume of passenger car exports more than tripled, while their dollar value rose only 174 percent from the same period a year earlier to $948 million, the report said. It gave no export volume figure, only the rate of increase.
The report attributed the discrepancy between the increase in export volume and sales to "unhealthy competition" in the passenger car industry. Among other things, nearly 60 percent of the 1,242 companies exporting vehicles had overseas sales of less than 10 units apiece, it said.
Such trends spell trouble for China's "brand image," since small manufacturers cannot guarantee adequate after-sales service and parts distribution, the report noted.
The statistics were carried in various state media reports.
While China's imports of passenger cars totaled only 99,500 units in January-September, the dollar value of those imports was $3.4 billion, reflecting the much higher value of the foreign autos sold in China, the official Xinhua News Agency said in a separate report on the Commerce Ministry data.
Although Chinese automakers are looking to expand in Europe and North America, so far they have mainly exported compact and economy passenger models, and mainly to developing countries.
According to state media reports, 70 percent of China's auto exports in the first half of the year went to Asia and Europe, with the greatest number going to Russia, followed by Kazakhstan and Iran.
"Developing overseas markets is a realistic strategy for Chinese own-brand automakers" facing intensifying competitive pressures at home, Xinhua quoted Commerce Ministry official Zhang Ji as saying.
Chinese independent automaker Geely Group Co. announced plans this week for an assembly plant in an industrial zone in Subic Bay, the Philippines. Also recently, Chinese state-owned automaker FAW Group Corp. broke ground on a joint venture assembly plant in central Mexico with Mexican conglomerate Grupo Salinas.
China's vehicle exports are still dominated by sales of commercial vehicles, buses and trucks, with passenger cars accounting for only $948 million, or about 20 percent of the total, the Xinhua report said.
The reports forecast that China's vehicle exports could hit 600,000 in 2007 and rise to 800,000 in 2008.