(Yicai Global) Jan. 10 -- Production and sales of cars in China, the world's biggest auto market, dropped last year for the first time since 1990, the latest figures show.
Output fell 5 percent to 23.5 million units from a year earlier, according to data the China Passenger Car Association released yesterday. Consumer purchases fell 6 percent to 22.7 million, while dealers bought 3.2 million units, a 4 percent decline, the figures show.
The industry group has previously blamed a slowing economy, deleveraging and an anti-pollution campaign for stalling the market as domestic and foreign automakers reported softening figures. For this year, Hangzhou-based Geely has forecast flat sales, while Volkwagen is bullish.
The National Development and Reform Commission has said that it will formulate measures to spur growth in the automobile sector, CPCA Secretary-General Cui Dongshu said, adding that there is potential for the market to improve this year.
December was the worst month for Chinese carmakers and sellers. Sales slumped over 16 percent to 2.2 million, which was the largest monthly drop in 2018. Less popular brands in China such as Germany's Borgward Group, Shanghai's Qoros Auto, and Wuhu-headquartered Chery Automobile, bore the brunt of the decline.
New energy vehicles account for an increasing proportion of demand. In December, NEV sales rose 19 percent to 160,000 from November. The increase was over 79 percent from December 2017. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were more popular than pure electric cars, as sales of the former doubled and those of the latter rose by a half. Dealers bought 1.1 million NEVs, up more than 88 percent from a year earlier.
Joint ventures between Chinese automakers and foreign brands were the most successful in the lackluster year. SAIC Volkswagen Automotive sold the most -- 2.1 million. FAW-Volkswagen Automobile was second with 2 million, and SAIC General Motors came in third with almost 2 million. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile and Geely Holding Group followed next. Geely and Chang'an Automobile were the only wholly owned Chinese brands to make it into the top 10.
Auto exports reached over 1 million units from January to November, an annual gain of 14 percent. Exports slumped 23 percent in the month of November to 85,000 units, partly due the intensifying global protectionism and trade frictions.
Editor: Emmi Laine