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Auto sales drop, NEVs storm ahead

The drop in auto sales was due to weak consumer demand but a bright spot in the market was electric vehicles whose sales surged nearly 50 percent in August.

China’s auto sales fell for a second month in August on weak consumer demand but new-energy vehicles, with sales surges of nearly 50 percent, “have become the driving force for growth,” an industry group reported yesterday.

Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, shrank 3.8 percent from a year earlier to 2.1 million vehicles last month in the world’s biggest auto market, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

In the first eight months of the year, overall auto sales grew 3.5 percent to 18.09 million vehicles, compared with the same period of last year, CAAM said.

Auto sales fell 4 percent from a year earlier to 1.89 million vehicles in July, after rising 5.6 percent from a year earlier to 14.06 million vehicles in the first half of this year, data from CAAM showed.

Last month’s sales decline was due to fewer passenger cars sold, CAAM said. Sedans, multi-purpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles all reversed in August compared with the same month of last year.

Sales of passenger cars, including sedans and SUVs, shed 4.6 percent to 1.79 million units in August, while sales of commercial vehicles climbed 1.1 percent to 313,000 units.

Sales of SUVs, usually the industry’s brightest spot, shrank 4.7 percent to 737,000 units. Sedan sales were down 3.4 percent at 901,000.

Industry analysts said China’s auto sales are under pressure in the second half of this year amid weak market sentiment due to the macro-economic environment, weaker consumer demand and slower SUV sales.

Joseph Wong, analyst for China autos and auto-part research at Japanese investment bank Nomura, said auto sales in China are set to decline in the remaining months of the year.

In an interview with Shanghai Daily last week, Nomura predicted a 2-3 percent rise for full-year 2018 auto sales.

Despite a slack performance in the overall automobile market, sales and production of new-energy vehicles maintained fast growth in China last month amid government efforts to encourage their use.

In August, sales of NEVs soared 49.5 percent to 101,000 units, while production jumped 39 percent to 99,000 units, according to CAAM.

Sales of electric vehicles added 31.7 percent to 73,000 units while 28,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold last month, a jump of 130.8 percent from a year earlier.

In the first eight months of this year, NEV sales surged 88 percent year on year to 601,000 vehicles. The production of NEVs surged 75.4 percent year on year to around 607,000 units in the January-August period.

“New-energy vehicles have become the driving force for growth of the car market. Automakers such as BYD, SAIC Motor Corp, Geely and Chery performed well in the new-energy vehicle market in the first eight months,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.


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