By Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh
BEIJING, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Auto sales in China rose 12.8% in September from the same month a year earlier, marking the sixth consecutive month of gains as the world’s largest vehicle market emerges of the lows reached during confinement by the coronavirus.
Sales reached 2.57 million vehicles last month, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
Sales continue to decline 6.9% in the first nine months of the year to 17.12 million vehicles, the employer said.
Industry insiders often speak of “golden September, silver October,” calling these two months the peak sales season in China, when drivers venture into car purchases after being away from the market during the sweltering summer months. Reflecting this trend, passenger car sales increased 8% in September. Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and Toyota Motor Corp all posted double-digit growth.
The Beijing Auto Show, promotional events and local policies to support consumption in the auto sector helped sales growth in September, said Chen Shihua, a senior CAAM official.
However, as overall economic activity remains sluggish and consumer confidence has not yet recovered, it will take time to fully unleash demand for more affordable products, Chen said.
New energy vehicle (NEV) sales rose 67.7% to 138,000 units in their third consecutive month of increases. NEVs include battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. NEV manufacturers such as Nio Inc and Xpeng Inc, as well as foreign ones such as US leader Tesla Inc are expanding manufacturing capacity in China, where the government promotes greener vehicles to reduce air pollution.
On October 1, Tesla cut the starting price of the China-made Model 3 sedan by 8% to 249,900 yuan ($ 36,805).
For trucks and other commercial vehicles, which make up about a quarter of the total market, sales increased 40% in September, driven by government investment in infrastructure and the fact that buyers renewed the auto stock to meet stricter emission standards.
(Information from Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; translated by Jose Elías Rodríguez)