China 2018 new car sales suffer 1st drop in 28 years

15, Jan. 2019

TOKYO, NNA – China’s new vehicle sales in 2018 suffered the first annual drop in 28 years as the trade war with the United States dampened economic sentiment and a tax break expired.

Sales of new vehicle sales fell 2.8 percent to 28,080,600 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Monday.

The association attributed the decline to a deterioration in consumer sentiment in light of the slowing economy and the trade dispute, in addition to the expiration of tax incentives for purchases of small vehicles at the end of 2017.

China, which has ranked as the world’s largest automobile market for 10 straight years, last saw a decrease in new car sales in 1990, a year after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown that triggered diplomatic and economic sanctions from the international community.

In 2018, passenger car sales dropped 4.1 percent from a year earlier to 23,709,800 units, while commercial vehicle sales rose 1.7 percent to 4,279,800 units, the association’s data showed.

All four sub-segments of passenger car sales – sedan, sport utility vehicle, multipurpose vehicle and crossover utility vehicle – fell, but new energy vehicle sales surged 61.7 percent to 1,256,000 units, with those for electric vehicles jumping 50.8 percent to 984,000 units and purchases of plug-in hybrid cars rising 118 percent to 271,000 units.

Among Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. saw a 14.3 percent jump in sales to a record 1,474,500 units last year, and Nissan Motor Co. posted a 2.9 percent increase to 1,563,986 units.

The association predicted that new vehicle sales would remain flat this year, with passenger car sales at about 23.6 million units and commercial vehicle sales at around 4.4 million units, according to press reports.

New energy vehicle sales are expected to continue robust growth, increasing at least 400,000 units to 1.6 million units, according to the association.