New vehicle sales in China continued to fall sharply in February, by 13.7% to 1,482,000 units from already weak year-earlier sales of 1,718,000 units, according to newly-released wholesale data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
This follows an almost 18% drop in January, bringing the cumulative two-month total to 3,851,000 units – down by 14.9% on the 4,527,000 units sold in the same period of last year. The decline reflects slowing economic growth in the country and over-stocking by dealers last year.
Sales of passenger vehicles fell by 17.5% to 3,243,000 units year-to-date from 3,932,000 units in the same period of 2018 while sales of commercial vehicles were 2.2% higher at 608,000 units from 595,000 units previously.
The decline in passenger vehicle sales also reflects the introduction of minimum sales quotas of new energy vehicles at the beginning of the year, sales of which almost doubled to 148,000 units year-to-date from 75,000 units previously at the expense of conventional passenger vehicles.
BYD Auto reported 43,100 new energy vehicle sales in the first two months of the year, with battery powered electric vehicles (BEVs) rising by 36% to 24,200 units while plug-in hybrid sales rose by 21% to 17,800 units. This offset a 48% drop in internal combustion engine vehicles to 27,700 units.
Ford was probably the worst-performing major automaker in the country with its local joint ventures reporting a combined 75% sales decline to 21,500 units in the first two months of the year from already weak year-earlier volumes, prompting the US automaker to take measures to reduce staffing levels in the country.
Honda performed much better, with sales rising by 1.5% to 75,907 units in February and by 4.5% to 212,390 year-to-date, while Nissan’s local joint ventures reported a 1.8% decline to 76,745 units last month and a 1.2% drop to 210,679 units year-to-date.
BMW Group sales rose by 0.6% to 44,582 units in February and by 8.8% to 107,717 units in the first two months of the year, while Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz sales fell by 5.4% to 40,733 units last month but were up by 0.9% at 112,430 units year-to-date.