China's pickup market -- small but considered a segment untapped and primed for growth as government restrictions ease -- shrank in the first quarter because of the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
New-pickup sales fell 39 percent to roughly 70,000 in the first three months, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The tally was made up of approximately 50,000 diesel pickups and 20,000 gasoline pickups, each posting a drop of 39 percent compared with the first three months of 2019.
Aggregate first-quarter pickup deliveries at the top five producers -- Great Wall Motor Co., Jiangling Motors Corp., Jiangxi Isuzu Motors Co., Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile Co. and Jianghuai Automobile Co.-- slipped 27 percent to around 54,000, allowing them to consolidate their grip on the segment.
The top five producers accounted for 77 percent of all pickup volume, an increase of 10 percentage points from the same quarter a year earlier, according to association data.
Great Wall and Jianghuai Automobile Co. are Chinese companies.
The other three top producers are joint ventures between foreign and Chinese automakers: Jiangling is Ford Motor Co.’s commercial vehicle partnership with Jiangling Motors Group; Jiangxi Isuzu is Isuzu Motors’ joint venture with Jiangling Motors Group; Zhengzhou Nissan is Nissan Motor Co.’s light-vehicle partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers didn’t release pickup sales for March.
In 2019, China pickup sales decreased 4.7 percent to around 452,000.
Pickups remain a small segment of the light-vehicle market partly because they are categorized as commercial vehicles and private pickups are barred from being used in urban areas.
But the Chinese government is relaxing regulatory controls. Great Wall’s new generation of pickups marketed under the Pao brand became the first trucks to be classified as passenger vehicles and have been permitted to operate in Chinese cities since 2019.