(Shanghai July 3) - 2014 is not shaping to be a good year for domestic own brand automobile manufacturers. Great Wall has seen its share price fall due to repeated delays with its new Haval H8, Geely is in the process of restructuring its three brands and Jianghuai has constantly been suffering from poor sales volumes. According to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the combined market share held by own brand manufacturers has fell for nine consecutive months from September 2013 to May 2014. These statistics have caused many in the industry to doubt the future prospects of own brand manufacturers.
CAAM Deputy Secretary General Cui Dongshu explained why own brands have been losing market share: "Poor product competitiveness, combined with changing market situations and changing consumer preferences have made it so that own brand manufacturers' products are not enough to satisfy the demands of Chinese consumers. It is only natural [then] that their market share would fall."
Recent reports show that first quarter growth rates for over ten own brand manufacturers, including Great Wall, Chery, Geely and BYD, were less than 33 percent, while ten other manufacturers actually suffered from negative growth of 15 percent to 20 percent.
Recently joint ventures have been releasing more and more products to compete with domestically manufacturers in their traditional stronghold: the subcompact and compact sedan segment. VW alone already offers seven compact models in China. Guangqi Honda, Dongfeng Peugeot Citroën and Dongfeng Nissan have also begun selling economy-priced compact cars. This has placed even more pressure on own brand manufacturers. As Mr. Cui points out, the lack of new products has not helped them either.
Despite this, some own brands, such as Changan, have managed to make noticeable strides thanks to the introduction of ambitious new market strategies. However with increasing pressure from competitively priced joint venture products, own brand manufacturers have significant challenges to overcome. How own brands face these challenges remains to be seen.