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January sales bounce back after grim year

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-08 07:10
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Nio delivers 7,225 new cars in January, up 352.1 percent from the same period last year. [Photo by Zhang Dandan/China Daily]

A year on from the outbreak of COVID-19 that plunged Chinese car sales into darkness, sales have returned to a reasonable pre-pandemic level with signs of growth among certain segments.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers forecast on Thursday that car sales in China will total 2.54 million units for January, increasing 31.9 percent year-on-year.

The January figures follow the trend since April 2020 when car sales bounced back after the successful containment of the virus in China and the recovery of the Chinese economy.

The latest statistics show that China's leading domestic electric car brands, including Nio, Xpeng Motors and Li Auto, recorded strong sales growth in January.

Nio delivered 7,225 new cars in January, up by 352.1 percent on a yearly basis and setting a new record for single-month deliveries for a consecutive six-month period.

Xpeng delivered 6,015 cars last month, up from 5,700 deliveries in December and growing 470 percent on a yearly basis.

Li Auto announced it delivered 5,379 vehicles in January, up 355.8 percent year-on-year.

Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight, said that the year-on-year growth doesn't have great significance because sales last January were affected by both the earlier Spring Festival holiday and the outbreak.

"While it is hard to deny that the significant rise in sales of electric cars is driven by a renewed interest in new energy vehicles, and there still remains huge development potential ahead," Zhang said.

Statistics from the State Information Center show there were 633,000 private sales of new energy vehicles from last January to November, increasing 52.5 percent year-on-year. Private sales accounted for 71.5 percent of total new energy vehicle sales in that period, which was just 20 percent two years ago.

Purchasing was relatively strong before Spring Festival in 2020 and a certain amount of that demand had accumulated toward the end of the year, Zhang said.

Comparative year-on-year sales growth for February and March this year will be even higher because production and dealerships closed due to the virus outbreak in February 2020, he said.

In addition to electric carmakers, the Hongqi brand of leading Chinese automaker FAW Group posted rising sales in January. The brand hit a new high of 32,500 vehicle sales in the month, up 158 percent year-on-year.

The upscale brand's full-year sales doubled over the previous year to 200,338 in 2020.

Volvo posted year-on-year growth of 91.4 percent with 19,122 sales in January. It marked the 10th consecutive month of double-digit growth for the carmaker.

China's Changan Automobile announced it sold 251,980 vehicles in January, spiking 87.24 percent year-on-year. Its joint ventures, Changan Ford and Changan Mazda, saw year-on-year growth of 96.10 percent and 33.77 percent last month, selling 30,117 and 11,860 vehicles respectively.

Japanese carmaker Honda sold 157,457 vehicles in the first month of 2021, up 104.8 percent year-on-year. Its joint ventures GAC Honda and Dongfeng Honda respectively sold 67,321 and 90,136 vehicles, up 87.8 percent and 122.5 percent year-on-year.

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