China’s industrial robot sales slipped 3.3% year on year in the first quarter of this year, the first time it fell in the January-March period since 2020, according to a study released recently.
In January and February, the country saw a steep drop in shipment of industrial robots, before sales went back up again in March, Mir Databank, a market research firm focused on the manufacturing industry.
It’s unclear when the market will regain its momentum, the study pointed out.
It attributed the general decline in industrial robot sales to sluggish demand from clients. Shipment did grow in the fourth quarter of last year, albeit at a slower pace.
Specifically, major drivers of industrial robot adoption, such as new energy vehicle, power battery, and healthcare industries, also experienced a decline in demand in the first quarter this year.
Notably, Chinese manufacturers of industrial robots have been grabbing more market share in their competition with foreign rivals, the study found.
Top Chinese producers increased their market share by 23% to 40.8% as of the first quarter, due in large part to ongoing efforts to substitute foreign imports with homegrown alternatives in automotive, photovoltaic and lithium battery segments.
By contrast, the share of foreign companies slumped 16% to 59.2% in Q1, owing to dwindling orders from clients in electronics, NEV and lithium battery industries.
This is also the first time foreign producers of industrial robots saw their market share slide below 60%.
Mir Databank predicted that China’s industrial robot market will continue to face downward pressure in the first half of 2023.
But it is poised to rebound in the second half, with growth forecast to hit 7.7% for the whole year, said the data service provider.