China’s Vehicle Sales Growth Decelerates to 19 Month-Low

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China’s vehicle sales grew at the slowest pace in 19 months in September as demand for trucks and buses slumped with the weaker economy.

Total vehicle sales, which include passenger and commercial vehicles, rose 2.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.98 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said today. That was the slowest pace since February 2013.

Demand is slowing in the world’s largest auto market as the economy slows with declines in gauges for services and industrial production. The state-backed auto association cut its forecast for full-year vehicle sales in July as the economy showed little signs of improvement and more cities consider purchase restrictions.

“The overall economic climate is a bit chilly so the individual sector is also impacted,” Dong Yang, the association’s secretary general, said at a briefing in Beijing today. “Even though the growth in August and September seems a bit slower, it is still in the normal range.”

Passenger-car sales in China rose 6.4 percent last month to 1.7 million units. Sales of commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses fell 16 percent, according to association data.

In July, the group lowered its projection for China vehicle sales growth to 8.3 percent, from a 10 percent prediction in January. Economists forecast China’s expansion this year will moderate to 7.3 percent, the slowest since 1990, and to 7 percent in 2015.

Foreign Automakers

Among foreign automakers, General Motors Co., which counts China as its largest market, said earlier this month that its sales in the country rose 15 percent in September. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, increased sales by 26 percent to 91,100 vehicles, while Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. deliveries slumped 20 percent and 23 percent respectively during the month.

Chinese brands gained 1.4 percentage points in market share to 38.5 percent in September from the prior month, as the government resumed subsidizing purchases of fuel-efficient vehicles. About 60 percent of the models approved for the 3,000-yuan ($489) subsidy were of local brands, according to the government.

— With assistance by Tian Ying, and Alexandra Ho

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