China’s new passenger vehicle market continued to recover in December 2020, with sales rising by 6.6% year-on-year to 2.29m units, according to retail data compiled by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

The data did not include sales of commercial vehicles, which typically account for around 15%-20% of the total vehicle market. Wholesale data for all vehicle categories is compiled separately by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) and released later in the month.

The Chinese economy has rebounded strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP growth estimated at around 5.5% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2020. The economy expanded by 4.9% in the third quarter and by 3.2% in the second quarter after a 6.8% contraction in the first quarter, according to Chinese government data.

Passenger vehicle sales declined by 6.8% to 19.3m units last year from 20.69m units in 2019, with sales rebounding by 7% in the second half following a 16% decline in the first half of the year. Sales in 2019 were down by 7.4% on the previous year.

The CPCA data also shows sales of new energy passenger vehicles, comprising mainly electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, rose by over 58% to 206,000 units in December, while full-year sales increased by 9.8% to 1.11m units.