China car sales rev up 24pc in August, as buyers take advantage of tax break

New-energy vehicle sales surge 92.2pc, with 28,000 electric cars bought

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 10:58pm

China’s vehicle sales grew 24 per cent in August compared with a year ago, the fastest pace in more than three and a half years, as buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax break which expires at the end of the year.

Around 2.07 million vehicles were sold in the month, up from 1.9 million registered in July, according to the latest figures from the Beijing-backed Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The year-on-year gain was also the biggest since January 2013, compared with 23 per cent growth for July and 14.6 per cent rise in June. But the star performers were new-energy vehicles, which saw a 92.2 per cent surge in sales

Beijing last October slashed the 10 per cent purchase tax in half on vehicles with engines smaller than 1.6 litres in a bid to revive the struggling auto market, and analysts are now expecting an even larger boost to sales in the final months of 2016, as consumers rush to buy before its expiry at year’s end.

But after that they question whether the momentum can be sustained.

“We have seen a more substantial growth in passenger car sales and production this month ...and the market share of domestic brands is picking up from the same period last year,” said Chen Shihua, a spokesperson with the automaker body.

When that tax break expires at the end of 2016, we forecast a 4 per cent fall in sales in 2017
Haitong International Research analysts Ole Hui and Lily Li

Passenger cars sales in China jumped 26.34 per cent year on year to 1.80 million for August, beefed up by a 45 per cent leap in SUV purchase orders, while a total of 275,500 commercial vehicles were ordered in the same period, up 12 per cent from a year earlier.

But new-energy vehicles sales soared 92.2 per cent, after consumers bought 28,000 electric cars in August, double the number in 2015, and 10,000 hybrid vehicles, a rise by 61 per cent year on year.

Statistics from the industry group showed the VW Jetta, produced by a joint venture between German carmaker Volkswagen AG and Chinese state-owned FAW Car Co was the month’s best selling passenger car, taking over the Lavida, made by Shanghai-based auto giant SAIC Motor and Volkswagen.

Great Wall Motors’s Haval H6, with 39,100 sedans delivered last month, retained its crown as the most popular SUV model among Chinese consumers, followed by Guangzhou-based GAC Group’s Chuangqi GS4.

Analysts at Haitong International Research are projecting a 10 per cent annual growth in passenger vehicle sales in China.

“But when that tax break expires at the end of 2016, we forecast a 4 per cent fall in sales in 2017,” warned Haitong’s Ole Hui and Lily Li in a note.