Chinese Vehicle Stock

China’s vehicle stock has grown at an extraordinary pace in the past several decades, along with the nation’s GDP. In 1990, there were approximately 5.5 million registered motor vehicles in China. As of the end of 2018, there were approximately 327 million. That means there is now roughly one registered motor vehicle for every four people in China. (In the United States, there is almost one registered motor vehicle for every person.)[2]

In 2018, 28 million new motor vehicles were sold in China, making it the world’s largest vehicle market by far. (The United States was second, with roughly 17 million vehicles sold.) For the first time in more than two decades, new motor vehicles sales in China fell as compared to the previous year. The decline of roughly 3% was mostly due to an increase in the tax on new motor vehicle purchases and slowing economic growth. This trend continued in the first half of 2019, with a year-over-year decline in new motor vehicles sales of roughly 12%.[3]

China has more than 100 vehicle manufacturers. Many of these vehicle manufacturers are owned or heavily supported by provincial and local governments.

Traffic congestion is a major problem in many Chinese cities. A 2013 study found that the average Chinese driver spends nine days a year stuck in traffic. Beijing, Tianjin and Hangzhou were rated the worst cities for traffic congestion.[4]


[2] National Bureau of Statistics of China, “National Data” (accessed July 4, 2019) (5.5 million vehicles in 1990); Jiang Ling Feng, “In 2018, car ownership exceeded 200 million for the first time,” Ministry of Public Security (January 12, 2019); “China’s car population grows up to 240 million units by the end of 2018,” China Automotive News (January 14, 2019); US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, “Number of U.S. Aircraft, Vehicles, Vessels, and Other Conveyances” (accessed July 4, 2019) (272 million registered highway vehicles in the United States in 2017).

[3] National Bureau of Statistics, Statistical Bulletin 2018 (February 28, 2019) at part XII; “China ahead in car sales race for 10 consecutive years,” China Daily (January 16, 2019); “USA—Flash report, Sales volume, 2018,” MarkLines (accessed August 12, 2019); “China—Flash report, Sales volume, 2019,” MarkLines (accessed August 12, 2019).

[4] Chris Bruce, “The average Chinese motorist loses 9 days a year stuck in traffic” (July 5, 2014).

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