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Chinese auto sales plunge 18% in January

Hu Yumo
Vehicle sales plummeted by nearly 20 percent in the first month of 2020, as extended holiday period slammed the brakes on market activity.
Hu Yumo

Chinese auto sales fell 18 percent in January from a year earlier, marking the 19th consecutive monthly decline, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on Thursday.

The latest drop follows decreases of 3.6 percent in November and 0.1 percent in December for the world’s largest auto market. CAAM said that the downward trend was due to macro-economic factors, weak demand during the Spring Festival and slowing sales and production amid the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic. In total, 1.94 million vehicles were sold in the country last month.

The association had predicted earlier that Chinese auto sales were likely to fall 2 percent in 2020, thus marking a third consecutive year of contraction. Last year, sales dropped 8.2 percent to 25.77 million vehicles.

In January, sales of new-energy vehicles declined by 54.5 percent, registering a contraction for a seventh month in a row.

Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that "due to the Spring Festival, retail sales in the third and fourth weeks of January were extremely low. During the Spring Festival, retail sales fell sharply, with a year-on-year decline of about 50 percent.”

The novel coronavirus outbreak has led some automakers to postpone the resumption of sales and production after the holiday. Cui added that this will put pressure on auto retail sales in February.

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