Rolls-Royce recently admitted that its sales have taken a beating in China. The British luxury carmaker said its 2015 car sales in China dipped by 54%, in stark contrast to two years ago when China had become Rolls-Royce's largest single market with sales of more than 1,000 Phantoms, Ghosts and Wraiths a year.
It is likely that the carmaker shipped fewer than 500 vehicles to China in 2015, making the country its third largest market, behind the US and the UAE. The BMW-owned car brand, which builds its cars in Goodwood, West Sussex, reported that its 2015 global sales slumped by just 7% as it sold a total of 3,785 cars, lower than the 4,063 it reported in 2014.
The nightmare in the People's Republic was offset by strong growth in smaller markets, such as South Korea, Qatar and India. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said this global sales numbers showed that the company was not over dependant on China for its sales.
Rolls-Royce was not the only luxury carmaker to have taken a hit in China in 2015. Bentley, which is owned by the scandal-hit Volkswagen, reported that in 2015 it delivered about 40% lesser cars.
VW Group China said that while 2,600 Bentleys were shipped in 2014, only 1,615 of these luxury cars were shipped in 2015, marking a difference of close to 1,000. Bentley, which makes most of its vehicles in Crewe, Cheshire, is expected to report its 2015 global sales figures on 12 January.
The world's second largest economy had a huge demand for goods from the newly rich, which had led the top-end carmakers to increase their production to all-time highs to meet this increased demand.
However, this demand has been negatively affected due to various reasons, such as the China slowdown, stock market crash, yuan devaluation, a crackdown on corruption and investigations into the wealth accumulated by some sections of the society.
Apart from this, China's wealthy are now more cautious about displaying their wealth as it may get them unwanted attention. A senior UK automotive chief explained: "Chinese factory owners who are laying off hundreds of workers are finding out that it is not very good form to turn up to do it in a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne."