Total vehicle sales in China fell by 9.6% to 2.056m units in June 2019 from 2.274m a year earlier, according to wholesale data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

This contrasts with an assessment released earlier this week by the China Passenger Car Association showing passenger vehicle retail sales rising by 4.9% to 1.8m units last month.

According to the Chinese government-supported CAAM, June was the 12th consecutive monthly decline for the vehicle wholesale market, including both passenger and commercial vehicles.

Total vehicle wholesales fell 12.4% to 12.32m units in the first half of 2019 from 14.07m units a year earlier, according to CAAM. This includes a 14% drop in passenger vehicle sales to 10.12m units while commercial vehicle sales amounted to 2.2m this period.

Sales of new energy vehicles, mainly electric and hybrid-powered vehicles, rose by 56% to 134,000 units in June and by 48% to 614,000 units year to date.

The market in the first half of the year was disrupted by a switch to stricter State VI emissions standards, which has affected supply, and weakened consumer sentiment. More than a dozen provinces and municipalities in China adopted the new emissions standards at the end of June, putting pressure on dealers to clear stocks of State V models with heavy discounting.

CAAM said that, by 20 June, 2,144 vehicle models from close to 100 manufacturers had been registered as State VI-compliant which is roughly half of the total on sale.

The weak June wholesale data prompted CAAM to revise downwards its full year forecast. The association now expects vehicle wholesales to decline by 5% to 26.7m units this year with performance improving in the second half – even if that is thanks only to weak year-earlier data.

Stock rebuilding by dealers could underpin vehicle wholesales in the next couple of months but retail demand is expected to weaken following the heavy discounting in June.

Most vehicle manufacturers in China have reported weaker sales year to date. Geely Automobile volume declined 15% to 651,680 units in the first six months of the year while Chery Automobile reported an 8.5% hike to 325,000 units.  

Chongqing Changan Automobile Company's sales fell by almost 32% to 825,200 units, including sales by its plant in Chongqing and its various joint ventures including Changan Ford and Changan Mazda. 

Ford said its sales in China fell by just under 22% to 154,042 units in Q2 2019 which also included its Taiwan sales from the beginning of this year, after plunging by 36% to 136,279 units in the first quarter.

GM and its joint ventures reported a 12.2% fall to 753,926 units in the second quarter and a 15% drop to 1,567,899 units in the first half of the year.

BMW said sales of BMW and Mini brand vehicles rose by almost 17% to 350,070 in the first half.

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