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Carmakers see growth despite bumpy road felt across sector

By LI FUSHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-15 07:10
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MG models are lined up in SAIC's Ningde plant in Fujian province in March 2023. [PHOTO by LI FUSHENG/CHINA DAILY]

NEVs lead the sales charge but some promotions blamed for interference

Carmakers saw their sales in April soar from the same month last year, but the country's leading trade association said further efforts are needed to boost recovery in the world's largest vehicle market.

More than 2.13 million vehicles were produced in April and 2.16 million units sold, up 76.8 percent and 82.7 percent year-on-year, according to statistics released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Thursday.

The surges were primarily the result of a comparatively low base in the same month last year as the COVID-19 pandemic stalled production in major vehicle-producing cities, including Changchun, capital of Jilin province, and Shanghai.

But production and sales last month were down by 17.5 percent and 11.9 percent from March because of industry-wide promotional campaigns that almost verged on "irrational", said the CAAM.

The negative effects of such viral campaigns, which were started in February by some less popular brands to cut stock, have not yet fully gone and some potential consumers are still adopting a wait-and-see attitude, said Chen Shihua, deputy secretary-general of the CAAM.

This was reflected by sales of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles in April, which stood at 985,000 units, up 65.2 percent year-on-year, much lower than the industry's average of 82.7 percent.

That means the growth in the passenger vehicle segment was mainly driven by the new energy vehicles, which saw "remarkable growth" in the month, said Chen.

The association did not give a specific figure regarding passenger NEVs but sales of NEVs as a whole soared to 636,000 units in April, up 110 percent year-on-year and accounting for 29.5 percent of China's vehicle sales in the month.

Their sales from January to April totaled 2.22 million units, up 42.8 percent year-on-year. The CAAM estimated that NEV sales in 2023 could reach 9 million, up from 6.9 million in 2022.

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