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China auto sales head for recovery this year


CHINA'S vehicle sales fell for a third consecutive year in 2020, but sales continued to rise in December as the country leads a recovery in the global automobile industry from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sales in the world's biggest auto market fell 1.9 per cent to 25.3 million vehicles last year from 2019, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.

China's automobile industry was hard hit by the pandemic in early 2020 but started to bounce back in the second quarter, along with the rest of the economy, as the country managed to get the coronavirus largely under control. CAAM said last month it expects vehicle sales to rise by around 4 per cent in 2021.

China's vehicle sales rose 6.4 per cent in December from a year earlier to reach 2.83 million vehicles. While that was down from a 12.6 per cent year-on-year rise in November, it was the ninth consecutive month of increases. Automakers including Toyota and Great Wall Motor reported sales growth in China last year.

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The data showed passenger vehicle sales fell 6 per cent for the full year of 2020.

The sales of commercial vehicles, which constitute around a quarter of the overall market, surged 19 per cent thanks to government investment in infrastructure and as buyers upgraded to comply with tougher emissions rules.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including battery-powered electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, increased 11 per cent in 2020 to 1.37 million units.

CAAM said last month the expected rise in 2021 vehicle sales to 26.3 million will be driven by supportive government policies and automakers' discounts. NEV sales are expected to hit 1.8 million units this year, CAAM has also said.

NEV makers such as homegrown Nio Inc and Xpeng Inc as well as foreign groups, such as Tesla Inc, are expanding manufacturing capacity in China where the government has promoted greener vehicles to reduce air pollution.

China is the only major economy expected to have grown last year. The world's second-largest economy is expected to have expanded 1.9 per cent in 2020 and to grow 7.9 per cent in 2021, the International Monetary Fund has said. REUTERS

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