China's Auto Sales Idled in October
By Trefor Moss
SHANGHAI--China's passenger-car sales stalled in October, as growth continues to elude some auto makers in the world's largest vehicle market.
Passenger-car sales increased just 0.4% year-over-year to 2.35 million, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Friday. Sales increased 2.1% in the first 10 months of 2017, a sharp slowdown compared with the 15.9% growth recorded last year.
Total vehicle sales increased 2% compared with October 2016 to 2.7 million, with sales up 4.1% in the January to October period.
Promotions offered by some auto makers hadn't been strong enough and this was reflected in weaker sales, said Chen Shihua, the association's assistant secretary-general.
Commercial-vehicle sales remained strong, however, propping up the sector's overall showing: They were up 14.8% year-over-year in October to 351,000.
In recent months, the manufacturers association has warned that its 5% growth target for this year probably wouldn't be met, and growth now won't much exceed 4% judging by the October data, the association said Friday.
An increase in the sales tax on light vehicles due this January should help produce a rise in sales in the closing weeks of the year, said Mr. Chen. A tax increase to 7.5% from 5% in January 2017 stimulated sales in late 2016, as consumers bought new cars ahead of the rate rise. The tax will go up to 10% in the new year.
The association said it was too early to predict the implications of potentially far-reaching changes for China's auto industry announced this week during the visit of President Donald Trump. On Thursday Chinese officials confirmed plans to cut vehicle import tariffs from their current 25% level. No details further details have been announced.