BEIJING – Car sales in China fell by 5.8 percent in 2018 to 22.35 million vehicles, the first year-on-year fall since 1990, the official newspaper China Daily reported on Thursday.
In December last year, 2.22 million cars were sold in the Asian country, a drop of 19.3 percent over the same period last year, making it the seventh consecutive month of decline in 2018, according to the newspaper.
“The situation turned out grimmer than we thought,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.
According to the executive, among the main causes of this decline are the economic slowdown in China, the rise in housing prices and fluctuations in the stock market, factors that have “dampened customers’ confidence.”
Among the most affected brands are General Motors (GM), with a drop of 9.9 percent compared to 2017; and SAIC Motor, the largest vehicle manufacturer in China, whose sales grew by just 1.75 percent compared to the 6.8 percent increase in 2017.
The Chinese company Geely has improved its numbers and has become the brand that has grown the most in the Asian country, with an increase of 20 percent compared to 2017.
Cui said that the competition will make brands, both domestic and foreign, offer more suitable products for the Chinese consumer, adding that the joint sale of commercial vehicles and passengers “would exceed 40 million” in the long term.
Also, the businessman believes that the market “had hit the bottom” in 2018 and that it will start to grow throughout this year thanks to the reduced tariffs on vehicles imported from the US and the Chinese manufacturers’ efforts to reduce their inventory since the second half of last year.
“It will be positive (growth), at least at 1 percent in 2019. And China has said it is considering offering some stimulus to encourage car purchases, which will be a further boost,” Cui said.