Mainland car sales likely rose in first two months
Mainland car sales are expected to have rebounded last month following the biggest monthly drop in three years recorded in January, according to preliminary data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).
The data indicates that February shipments of new cars from manufacturers to dealers jumped by more than 25 per cent compared with the same month a year ago, versus a year-on-year fall of 24 per cent in January.
But the number of cars shipped in the first two months of this year was still below the 2.49 million cars delivered in the same period last year.
Car sales figures in January and February are often read together to avoid distortions caused by the seasonal impact of the Lunar New Year.
At the retail level, dealer sales to individuals went down by around 30 per cent in February compared to January on slack consumption, said Cui Dongshu, the analyst who wrote the latest CPCA weekly report.
But sales of cars to individuals during the first two months were expected to be higher than the 2.28 million cars sold over the same period last year, Cui said.
The CPCA refused to provide actual sales figures, as official data would be released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) in the next few days. But CPCA data has proven accurate, with an average margin of error of less than 0.5 per cent in the past 12 months.
Germany luxury-car makers Mercedes-Benz and Audi were among those to benefit from February's rebound. Audi sold a record 31,352 vehicles in China, including Hong Kong, last month - a year-on-year increase of 66 per cent.
The rise was driven by brisk sales of models such as the A4L, produced in Changchun in the northeastern Jilin province, and the Q5, sales of which were up 77 per cent and 97 per cent respectively.
Mercedes-Benz sold more cars in China than in the United States for the first time as delivery to China rose 57 per cent to 19,205 cars in February, versus a 17 per cent increase in sales in the United States to 18,808 cars.
Cui said the mainland's retail car market was likely to remain slack this month due to rising oil prices and a slowing economy, but the launch of new models would help lift sales.
Meanwhile, the CPCA rejected the European Union Chamber of Commerce's criticism on Monday of a proposal by Beijing to exclude foreign carmakers from its public-fleet procurement this year.
The chamber said such a move would discriminate against European carmakers and investors.
The association said it was unrealistic for foreign firms to expect to dominate a nation's car industry.
It said three-fifths of China's total vehicle revenue last year was from foreign vehicles, which also accounted for more than 80 per cent of car sales. By comparison, foreign makers have around 30 per cent market share in China's home appliances market, 16 per cent in motorcycle sales and 36 per cent in car components, according to the CPCA.
The year-on-year increase in car sales in China, to 15.9 million vehicles, forecast for 2012 by the CAAM