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China Car Sales Growth Slows as Price War Boost Wanes

Sales were up 2.1% in April though they were down 1.4% year-on-year for the first four months of 2023

China's latest moves to boost car and electronics sales have received a cool reception.
Cars clog an expressway during a pre-pandemic evening peak hour in Beijing. File photo: Reuters.


China’s car sales growth slowed down last month with just a 2.1% rise in purchases as the impact of a price war showed signs of fading.

Vehicle sales in April totalled 1.65 million units, 54.5% higher from a year earlier when Covid-19 lockdowns disrupted productions and sales, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Tuesday.

In the first four months of 2023, vehicle sales were down 1.4% year-on-year to 5.98 million units, it added.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), which include pure battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids, skidded 3.6% on a monthly basis in April and accounted for 32 per cent of total car sales in the month, CPCA data showed.

BYD sat atop the segment with 37% market share, while Tesla had a 7.6% share.


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China’s crowded auto market is getting even more congested with nearly 300 models displayed at the Shanghai auto show in April, 172 of which were NEVs, according to Ways Consulting.

After more than 40 auto brands this year joined a price war started by Tesla and slashed prices on their best-selling models, more consumers are choosing to delay purchases in anticipation of bigger discounts on the cars, CPCA said in previous notes.

The US EV giant has since reversed course, raising prices in markets including China in May.

China’s post-Covid economic recovery has mostly benefited spending on services like restaurants and travel, while sales of big ticket items like cars and smartphones have continued to slump.

A tepid property market recovery and an unexpected contraction in factory activity is also pointing to a shaky economic outlook, casting clouds over the strength of the post-Covid rebound and potentially dampening consumer spending.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China Car Sales Slump 20% on Weak Demand But EVs Charge Ahead

VW China Chief Sees Total China Car Sales Rising in 2023

China’s Rapid Shift to EVs Hurting Japanese Carmakers



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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