China’s car sales in December fell 1.6% from a year-ago period, the eight consecutive monthly drop, industry data showed on Wednesday, as the world’s biggest car market was hit by Covid-19 outbreaks and the global shortage of semiconductors.
Overall sales in China stood at 2.79 million vehicles in December, bringing total sales for 2021 to 26.28 million, rising 3.8% from 2020, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.
The global shortage of compute chips, used in everything from brake sensors and power steering to entertainment systems, has led carmakers around the world to cut or suspend production, pushing up prices of both new and used vehicles.
One bright spot was the sales of new energy vehicles (NEV), which include battery-powered electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, showed strong momentum with a growth of 157.5% to 3.52 million units in 2021.
In December alone, 531,000 NEVs were sold, representing a rise of 114% year-on-year. China has in recent years heavily promoted NEVs as part of its efforts to curb air pollution. This may have been partly caused by news that Beijing plans to cut its subsidies for NEV purchases by about a third.
CAAM said in December that it expects automobile sales to rise 5.4% to 27.5 million units this year, and for NEV sales to grow 47% to 5 million units.
- Reuters, with editing by George Russell