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China Auto Sales Pick Up the Pace -- WSJ

12 May 2018 6:32 am
By Trefor Moss 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (May 12, 2018).

SHANGHAI -- China's auto sales rose 11.5% last month compared with the same period last year, as Beijing's policies designed to drive purchases of electric vehicles looked to be having an effect.

Figures from the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show EV sales reached 81,904 in April, and 225,310 in the first four months of the year. Sales in the January-to-April period are up 149% compared with the same period in 2017, when such sales all but ceased for several weeks due to an interruption in China's provision of EV subsidies.

With auto sales typically accelerating in China as the year progresses, many analysts say Chinese EV sales are on course to top 1 million this year for the first time. Last year, 777,000 electric vehicles were sold.

The Chinese government is targeting 2 million EV sales in 2020, and is trying to achieve that with incentives as well as restrictions on gasoline-car purchases. China accounted for roughly half of all global EV sales in the first quarter of 2018.

Overall vehicle sales increased to 2.32 million last month, with passenger-car sales up 11.2% to 1.91 million, the manufacturer's association said Friday.

The Chinese bought 9.5 million vehicles in the January-to-April period, of which 8 million were passenger cars, up 4.8% compared with the same period in 2017. Commercial vehicle sales rose 6.6% in the first four months of the year to 1.49 million.

The healthy level of growth is unlikely to be sustained: sales were particularly weak in the early months of 2017, making the January-to-April 2018 growth numbers look artificially robust, said Chen Shihua, the association's assistant secretary-general.

However, bearish predictions of zero market growth in 2018 made by some analysts at the start of the year now look unlikely to be realized, with the association forecasting about 3% growth overall.

Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd., the mass-market car unit of Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., continued to cement its position as China's top-selling domestic auto brand. Its sales rose 41% in the January-to-April period to 515,113.

That increase follows unit-sales growth of 63% last year. Geely Auto has been second only to Volkswagen-brand cars in China in terms of unit sales so far this year.

Lin Zhu in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to Trefor Moss at Trefor.Moss@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2018 02:32 ET (06:32 GMT)

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