China sees slowest rise in auto sales since 2012

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China’s auto sales rose 3 percent to 28.88 million vehicles in 2017 from a year ago, the slowest market expansion since 2012, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers yesterday.

The data revealed the 3 percent growth is lower than an estimated 5 percent growth at the beginning of last year. In 2011, the market grew only 2.5 percent after government ended tax cuts on fuel efficient cars and economic growth slowed. From 2012 to 2016, the growth rate was more than 4 percent annually.

China’s auto market surged 13.7 percent in 2016 — a contrast with the weak sales in 2017.

“China’s auto market saw minimal growth last year. In 2018, the growth rate of the industry is expected to slow further,” said David Zhang, an independent automotive consultant.

CAAM said the auto industry “faced certain pressure in 2017” because of the rise in the purchase tax. The tax for vehicles with engines below 1.6 liters has been raised from 5 percent to 7.5 percent at the beginning of last year, which caused the market sentiment to weaken and resulted in fewer consumers buying small-engine cars.

According to data from CAAM, sales of vehicles with engines below 1.6 liters fell over 1 percent to 17.19 million units in 2017 from a year ago.

Passenger car sales took up 85 percent of total vehicle sales, with 24.72 million sold in 2017, up 1.4 percent from 2016. Commercial vehicles took up the remaining 15 percent, with 4.16 million units sold last year.

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