May sales in China of new energy vehicles (NEVs) rose 49.6% month-on-month even as overall purchases of cars fell 12.6%, new data showed.
NEVs include battery-powered electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
The monthly decline in total sales improved from April’s falls as authorities rolled out stimulus to support a market depressed by the country’s Covid-19 lockdowns.
Overall sales in the world’s biggest car market fell to 1.86 million vehicles in May, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.
However, overall May sales rose 57.6% month-on-month from April, when the market was badly hit by lockdowns in several cities and saw sales that month almost halve year-on-year.
Sales in the first five months were 12.2% lower from the same period in 2021, CAAM said.
China’s automotive sector has been hit hard in recent months by efforts to combat Omicron this year, which saw the government put many parts of the country including Shanghai under stringent lockdowns.
Authorities are trying various incentives to revive the market, with the latest being a halving of the purchase tax for cars priced at no more than 300,000 yuan ($45,000) and with 2-litre or smaller engines to 5% of the sticker price from June 1.
The move could lead to an increase of 2 million extra car sales this year, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), another industry body.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell