September car sales in China slowest for 19 months

Commercial vehicles drag on sales figures in world’s biggest market

BMW: posted 17.9 per cent growth in sales in China

BMW: posted 17.9 per cent growth in sales in China

 

Last week, until an hour before kick-off, a friendly football match between Argentina and Brazil in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium was looking dicey because of the pollution in the city, with readings running way too high for the expensive lungs of Lionel Messi and Neymar to bear.

Almost miraculously, the air cleaned up, but generally the pollution problem is becoming chronic in Beijing. The government is planning various measures, including odd and even licence-plate systems on top of the existing restrictions on car use, to combat the problem.

So, in some ways, news that China’s September automobile sales rose 2.5 per cent from a year earlier, its slowest pace in 19 months, is not all bad. Vehicle sales were dragged down by sluggish sales of trucks and buses as the economy slowed down, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

Total vehicle sales, which include passenger and commercial vehicles, totalled 1.98 million units last month, the slowest pace since February 2013.

Passenger vehicle sales rose 6.4 per cent, while commercial vehicle sales slumped 16 per cent.

During the first nine months of 2014, China’s vehicle sales rose 7 per cent from a year earlier. Sales have been mixed across brands. Nissan and Honda both posted their third consecutive monthly decline in China sales in September, registering decreases of 20 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. But German brands are proving strong. BMW posted a 17.9 per cent growth during the first nine months, while Mercedes Benz said its China sales jumped 30.5 per cent in September. Audi posted a 13 per cent increase in China sales in September.

The CAAM has forecast that the market will expand 8.3 per cent this year, slowing from last year’s rapid growth rate of 13.9 per cent.

Overall, economists forecast that China’s expansion this year will moderate to 7.3 per cent, the slowest rate since 1990, falling to 7 per cent in 2015.

A reason for the auto part of this slowdown is evident in the heavy traffic on the way to the Bird’s Nest stadium, when it feels as though everyone in Beijing must have a car already.

Brazil won 2-0 by the way.

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