China auto sales fall in January for eighth month

BEIJING (AP) – China’s auto sales fell for an eighth month in January, extending a painful decline for the biggest global market as demand cooled amid a slowing economy and tariffs standoff with the US.

Purchases of sedans, SUVs and minivans fell 15 per cent from a year earlier to just over two million vehicles, according to an industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

Cooling growth and trade tensions with Washington are prompting jittery buyers to put off purchases.

The slump is a setback for global automakers that are looking to China to drive revenue and are spending heavily to meet Chinese government targets to develop electric vehicles.

2018 passenger vehicle sales suffered their first decline in nearly three decades. Purchases fell 4.1 per cent from the previous year to 23.7 million.

The downturn has prompted suggestions Beijing will cut sales taxes or offer other incentives.

January’s total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, declined 15.8 per cent to 2.4 million, according to CAAM.