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Sales remain strong in largest auto market

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-12 13:26
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A customer gets to grips with a new energy car at a 4S store in Tianjin. [Photo by Fu Yang/For China Daily]

January figures signal positive prospects in the road ahead in 2018

China sold 2.81 million vehicles in January, according to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, one of the latest signs of robust demand in the world's largest car market.

Despite an 8.2 percent fall from December, the figures marked an 11.6 percent growth from January 2017, said the association on Friday. Chen Shihua, an assistant to the association's secretary-general, said the double-digit growth was the result of a number of reasons including more working days in the month and a surge in sales of new energy cars.

He said this growth rate is unlikely to last and it would be more rational to approach it in a longer period of time, such as a quarter.

China's overall sales growth rate was 3.04 percent last year and the association expects the growth rate to hover at the same level again this year.

A breakdown of the January figures shows that sales of passenger cars, which account for bulk of car sales, totaled 2.46 million units, a 10.7 percent growth from the same month last year.

Sedan sales reached 1.16 million units, a 7.3 percent growth year-on-year; SUVs continued to rise in popularity, with their sales surging 23 percent to 1.08 million units. MPVs remained a smaller segment. Its January sales stood at 179,000, a 13.4 percent fall year-on-year. Minivan sales, the smallest division in passenger cars, slumped 30 percent to just 36,000 units.

Sales of commercial cars continued their momentum seen last year. In January their sales totaled 353,000 units, an 18 percent growth year-on-year.

Of them bus sales reached 35,000 units, up 18.9 percent year-on-year, and truck sales totaled 318,000 units, a 17.9 percent growth from January 2017.

New energy cars, which consist of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars, saw solid growth.

A total of 38,470 units were sold in January, surging 431 percent year-on-year. Of them 33,848 were electric cars, a 454 percent growth year-on-year.

Chen at the CAAM said the explosive growth has been brought about because some people rushed to make the most of the current subsidies that are about to be cut at any time.

Another reason is that there are much more offerings in the segment than in the same month last year, when the government recompiled the list of models eligible for subsidies.

The association is confident in new energy car sales this year.

It estimated that at least 1 million of them will be sold in 2018.

China has been the world's largest market for such cars since 2015. By the end of last year, there were at least 1.7 million new energy cars on the roads in China.

The government expects their sales to reach 2 million a year by 2020 and account for 20 percent of new car sales by 2025, according to a guideline released in 2017.

China has built the world's largest public charging network for electric cars.

By the end of 2017, China was home to 213,903 public charging poles, ranking No 1 in the world, according to the China Electric Car Charging Technology and Industry Alliance.

There were also 231,820 private charging poles, which has pushed the total number of charging poles available in the country to over 440,000.

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