Seven years ago, at the 2011 Automotive News World Congress, then-Beijing Automotive CEO Dazong Wang shocked the room when he said China's new-vehicle sales could hit 40 million by 2020, compared with 18.3 million in 2010.
So will it happen? Nope, not even close.
In 2017, China's sales of automobiles, including buses and heavy trucks, totaled 28.9 million, rising 3 percent from 2016 — and not on a path to hit 40 million by 2020.
But Wang, who had been a General Motors executive earlier in his career, wasn't exactly predicting 40 million sales, just alerting us that it was within the realm of possibility. And when you consider light vehicles alone, his projection may wind up not too far off the mark.
Wang said in 2011 that light vehicles would account for 30 million of the 40 million total in 2020. Last year, light-vehicle sales in China totaled 24.7 million, up 1.4 percent. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts sales will increase by 3 percent in 2018, but many industry watchers are expecting annual growth more like 5 percent in the coming years.
If that happens, light-vehicle sales in China would come close to 29 million in 2020. And if you'd told us that in 2011 at the World Congress, the shock waves would have been just as strong.