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China's new energy vehicle sales drop for 1st time in over two years

Beijing

SALES of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China fell 4.7 per cent in July from a year earlier, the first drop in more that two years, data from the country's biggest auto industry association showed.

NEV sales fell to 80,000 units last month in China. That compared with a growth of 80 per cent in NEV sales in June.

Overall car sales in the world's biggest vehicle market fell 4.3 per cent in July, down for a 13th consecutive month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Monday.

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That followed declines of 9.6 per cent in June and 16.4 per cent in May, as well as the first annual contraction last year since the 1990s against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and a crippling trade war with the United States.

"The main reason for new energy vehicle sales decline in July is the switch of policies," said Chen Shihua, assistant secretary general at the CAAM, referring to China's move to cut NEV subsidies last month.

CAAM has previously said it expects China car sales to drop 5 per cent year on year to 26.68 million vehicles this year. It had trimmed its forecast for a rise in NEV sales to 1.5 million, versus a previous forecast of 1.6 million.

The prolonged sales decline has made local carmakers from Geely to Great Wall cut expectation on sales and profit.

It has also prompted some global names like Peugeot maker PSA Group to close plants and adjust workforce.

China has since January been trying to boost consumption of wide-ranging goods as the world's second largest economy slows further in 2019 amid the trade spat with the US.

But its measures to spur car sales have disappointed as they included no plans to relax controls over the issuance of new licences for traditional-fuel cars in major cities.

The implementation of NEV emission standards earlier than the central government's 2020 deadline by 15 cities and provinces, which account for over 60 per cent of car sales in China, have spooked buyers too and hurt sales, according to CAAM, analysts, dealers and consumers. REUTERS