SHANGHAI, Jan. 28 (SMM) – According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), even though China’s automobile and motorcycle output both slowed last year, the ignition battery segment remained the most important driver of lead ingot demand.
CAAM data show that China’s automobile output rose 4.56% to 19.27 million vehicles in 2012. Though well below 2009-2010’s 30% growth, this was a considerable step up from 2011’s 1%. Automobile output rose from 1.299 million vehicles in January to hit a record 1.88 million in March as production resumed after Chinese New Year. Output held steady through 2Q before dropping significantly in 3Q as rising tensions between China and Japan caused sales of Japanese cars to plunge. Production began to recover to 1.7 million units in November.
China’s 2012 motorcycle output was only 23.63 million units, down a sharp 12.5% YoY, following 4.98% and 1.16% growth in 2010 and 2011. Monthly output held stable last year at 1.9-2.1 million units once the January-February holiday season passed. Subsidies to promote motorcycle sales to rural areas, launched March 1, 2009, will expire January 31. This is expected to drive a further decline in motorcycle output this year.
Despite slipping output, China has some 115 million motorcycles on the road, which, combined with stable replacement demand from the automotive segment, left ignition batteries as the largest driver of lead ingot demand in 2012.