China's car sales tumble, road ahead bumpy
* China's automobile sales in January fall 15.8 pct y/y -
* Marks seventh consecutive month of decline in sales
* CAAM predicts another sharp drop in February
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By Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh
SHANGHAI, Feb 18 (Reuters) - China's automobile sales fell
for a seventh straight month in January, the country's top auto
industry association said on Monday, as demand slowed in the
world's largest auto market.
Sales dropped a steeper 15.8 percent from a year earlier to
2.37 million vehicles last month, the Association of Automobile
Manufacturers (CAAM) said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
That followed a 13 percent drop in December and a 14 percent
fall in November.
"Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no
sign of improvement. We estimate that February wholesales will
also drop sharply" said Xu Haidong, CAAM assistant secretary
"The reason for the sales drop is still the slowing overall
economy, and consumption decline in small- and medium-sized
cities" Xu said.
China's economy cooled last year to 6.6 percent, its weakest
in 28 years, hit by higher trade tariffs and a government
crackdown on debt, with growth set to slow further this year.
Slowing consumption and the fallout of trade frictions with the
United States contributed to the auto market contracting for the
first time in more than two decades in 2018.
Beijing is now trying to persuade consumers to loosen their
purse strings and has pledged to provide subsidies to boost
rural sales of some vehicles and purchases of new energy
"Q1 sales were good last year, so this year the industry
expects to have negative growth in the first quarter," Yale
Zhang, head of consultancy AutoForesight, told Reuters, but he
predicts sales will gradually pick up in the next three
Industry executives also say China's car sales in January
and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday,
as consumers hold off on their car purchasing decisions around
The holiday's dates change annually but tend to occur in
either month. It took place in the first week of February this
China's sales of new energy vehicles, however, continued to
buck the trend, totalling 95,700 in January, an increase of 140
percent from a year earlier, CAAM said.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Shri Navaratnam)
First Published: 2019-02-18 05:52:16
Updated 2019-02-18 08:27:18
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