Biz / Auto

China's auto market sees strong recovery in 2020

Auto market was hit hard by the pandemic in the first quarter, but both production and sales have rebounded quickly since April as factories reopened and pent-up demand unleashed.

China’s auto market saw a forecast-beating performance in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, thanks to policy support and a strong recovery in consumer demand, data from an industry association showed today.

The number of automobiles sold in the country totaled 25.31 million last year, down 1.9 percent year on year, narrowing 6.3 percentage points from the decline seen in 2019, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

“China continues to top the world in auto sales,” the CAAM said in a statement, attributing the industry’s strong performance to government support, efforts of auto firms and robust recovery in market demand.

In 2020, China produced 25.23 million automobiles, down 2 percent year on year, narrowing 5.5 percentage points from the drop in 2019.

In December, auto sales reached 2.83 million, up 6.4 percent on year, while production totaled 2.84 million, a 5.7 percent gain from a year ago. China’s auto exports surged 35.5 percent on year to 145,000 units, notching a historic high.

The country’s auto market was hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic in the first quarter, but both production and sales have rebounded quickly since April as factories reopened and pent-up demand unleashed.

Sales of new energy vehicles in China went up 10.9 percent year on year to 1.37 million units in 2020 amid government efforts to encourage their use and ease pressure on the environment. In December alone, NEV sales surged 49.5 percent on year to 248,000 units.

The better-than-expected NEV sales came amid a government push and rising market enthusiasm for eco-friendly cars. In November last year, China unveiled a development plan for its NEV industry from 2021 to 2035 that aims to hasten the country’s transition into an automotive powerhouse.

The proportion of new NEVs in the sales of new vehicles is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2025, and vehicles used in public transportation will be completely electrified by 2035, according to the plan.

China’s automobile exports fell 2.9 percent on year in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, CAAM data showed.

Last year, Chinese auto firms exported a total of 995,000 vehicles. Of the total, exports of passenger cars stood at 760,000 units, up 4.8 percent from the previous year, and exports of commercial vehicles declined 21.4 percent to 235,000 units.

Auto exports in the country began to recover in September, ending the weak performance in the first eight months of 2020, the CAAM said.

The Ministry of Commerce introduced fresh measures this month to boost auto sales, encouraging cities to optimize their restrictions on auto consumption and incentivize rural consumption of cars.

As the economy recovers, the rebound in consumer demand will accelerate, contributing to positive auto market growth in 2021, the CAAM predicted.

Auto sales are expected to exceed 26 million units in 2021, up 4 percent year on year.

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