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China’s auto sales rise 8.8pc in H1 2023

BEIJING (AP) – China’s auto sales rose 8.8 per cent over a year earlier in the first half of 2023 as electric vehicle purchases surged, but growth is fading as an economic rebound following the end of anti-virus controls cools, an industry group reported yesterday.

Sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans rose to 11.3 million, decelerating from 2022’s 9.5 per cent growth, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Total vehicle sales including trucks and buses rose 9.8 per cent to 13.2 million.

CAAM earlier forecast this year’s annual sales growth might fall to as low as three per cent.

Global automakers look to China to propel sales growth as United States and European demand flattens and are pouring billions of dollars into developing electrics to meet government sales quotas. They face growing competition from Chinese brands that are developing rapidly, taking market share and starting to compete with global majors in their home markets by exporting to Europe and Japan.

China’s economic growth rebounded to 4.5 per cent over a year earlier in the first three months of 2023 from last year’s three per cent, the second-lowest annual level in decades.

A hybrid luxury Chinese SUV is displayed at a train station. PHOTO: AP

But that recovery faded faster than expected as factory and consumer activity weakened.

The ruling Communist Party’s growth target this year is “about five per cent,” but some private sector forecasters expect as little as four per cent.

Growth in auto sales fell to just 2.1 per cent over a year earlier in June for a total of 2.3 million. Total vehicle sales decelerated to 4.8 per cent for a total of 2.6 million.

Sales of gasoline-electric hybrid and pure-electric vehicles rose 44.1 per cent in the first six months of 2023 to 3.7 million, less than half of 2022’s annual growth of 93.4 per cent. Their share of total sales rose to a record 28.3 per cent from last year’s 25.6 per cent.

Electrics sales growth slowed to 35.2 per cent over a year earlier in June for a total of 806,000.

Electric vehicle makers including BYD Auto and Geely Group’s Zeekr unit began sales this year in Japan and Europe. Geely also owns Sweden’s Volvo Cars and its all-electric luxury brand, Polestar.

Sales by Chinese brands rose 19.7 per cent over a year earlier to two million, down from 2022’s 22.8 per cent growth, according to CAAM. Exports rose 75.7 per cent over a year earlier in the first half to 2.1 million. Growth in June downshifted to a still-robust 53.2 per cent for a total of 382,000.

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