China’s auto sales up 27pc but hurt by chip shortage

BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales rose 27 per cent in the first half of 2021 from a year earlier but still were below pre-pandemic levels, and production and sales fell in June due to global shortages of processor chips, an industry group reported on Friday.

Sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans from January to June in the global industry’s biggest market rose to 10 million, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 25.6 per cent from a year earlier to 12.9 million.

Compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019, passenger vehicle sales were off 1.4 per cent in the first half, according to CAAM. Total vehicle sales were down 4.4 per cent.

Passenger vehicle production fell 13.7 per cent in June from a year earlier while sales were down 11.1 per cent at 1.6 million.

Sales showed an “obvious decline after May”, CAAM said in a statement. “Passenger vehicles were mostly affected by an insufficient supply of chips.”

China’s auto demand already was weakening due to consumer unease about slowing economic growth and a trade war with Washington before dealerships were shut last year to fight the virus outbreak.

China’s economy re-opened relatively early after it declared victory over the virus in March. But passenger vehicle sales fell 22.4 per cent in the first half of 2020, setting a low base for comparison this year.

Shoppers passing near advertisements for Mercedes Benz at a mall in Beijing. PHOTO: AP