Car subsidy scheme fuels sales but data shows growth moderating

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:38pm

The mainland's cash-for-clunkers subsidy programme continues to gather speed even as data from several big carmakers suggests overall sales growth is moderating.

Sales under the 'old-for-new' programme rose 50 per cent last month from August to 36,000 trucks, buses and cars, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday on its website.

The plan, which offers new car purchase subsidies of 5,000 yuan (HK$5,812) to 18,000 yuan for trade-ins of older vehicles, generated sales of about 250,000 units in the first nine months of the year, accounting for about 2 per cent of all vehicle sales during the period.

The old-for-new scheme is one of several government-funded initiatives that has helped fuel demand and partly offset slowing growth this year in the world's biggest car market by volume.

Despite the rise in subsidised trade-ins last month, a number of major manufacturers reported sales growth volumes that signalled a continued slowdown from the red-hot levels of 72 per cent in the first quarter and 45 per cent last year.

Toyota Motor Corp said yesterday its mainland car sales rose to 78,000 units last month, up a modest 9 per cent from a year ago and notably slower than the 20 per cent growth the firm saw in the first nine months of the year.

Dongfeng Nissan's sales last month rose 24.1 per cent from a year earlier to 117,000 units, slower than their 45 per cent growth in the year to date.

Ford Motor said its sales rose to 50,970 units last month, a 26 per cent increase from a year ago but slower than the 40 per cent growth from January to September.

The more tempered growth rates come despite aggressive government stimulus measures that include a 3,000 yuan per car subsidy, introduced in June, to buyers of passenger cars with fuel-sipping engines of 1.6 litres and smaller.

Fully electric cars qualify for subsidies of up to 60,000 yuan per unit, while so-called 'plug-in' hybrids can receive 50,000 yuan in subsidies.

The cash-for-clunkers plan was first launched in June last year but met with disappointing results as initial subsidies were set at only 3,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan per vehicle.

Those incentives were increased to the present level of up to 18,000 yuan in January, triggering renewed interest.

In the first nine months of the year, the commerce and finance ministries have handed out some 3.5 billion yuan in old-for-new subsidies on total vehicle purchases worth 28.6 billion yuan. That includes 510 million yuan in subsidies last month.

The programme is currently set to expire at the end of the year, but state media have hinted that it may be extended.