Car sales in China rose for the first time in almost a year last month, evidence that the world’s largest market is rebounding from the coronavirus crisis and the trade war with the United States. Retail sales of cars, SUVs and multiple-purpose vehicles increased 1.9 per cent from a year earlier to 1.64 million units in May, the China Passenger Car Association said on Monday, which was the first gain since June 2019. The government added stimulus measures such as tax rebates to attract consumers back to showrooms, while carmakers that closed operations amid the coronavirus outbreak now offer generous discounts. The pandemic exacerbated a sales slump that is in its third year, with an economic slowdown, trade tensions and stricter emission standards weighing on demand. China economy: latest data about world’s second largest economy Global carmakers spent billions of US dollars expanding in China in recent decades, and manufacturers such as Tesla, General Motors and Volkswagen remain undeterred in their effort to tap the market’s long-term growth potential, including for electric vehicles. The German manufacturer said this month it will become the biggest shareholder of battery company Guoxuan High-Tech, and it is seeking a 50 per cent stake in a Chinese electric vehicle partner. A decline in sales of new-energy vehicles (NEVs), including electric cars, also slowed, the China Passenger Car Association said. NEV sales fell 26 per cent, following a drop of 30 per cent in April and 49 per cent in March. Tesla was the top-selling NEV brand with 11,095 vehicles, the China Passenger Car Association said. The US company started deliveries from its massive new Shanghai factory around the start of the year. Monthly registrations of new Tesla vehicles in China have fluctuated this year amid the virus, from a low of 2,314 in February to a high of 12,710 in March, according to data from state-backed China Automotive Information Net. After growing rapidly for several years, electric car sales have lost momentum since the government moved to limit subsidies in mid-2019. The pandemic also hurt demand, and slumping oil prices have made cars that consume large amounts of fuel more competitive. The government still considers electric cars a priority, and has added a slew of fresh stimulus measures to help the industry recover. Full-year car sales in China may fall about 10 per cent following big declines at the height of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, China Passenger Car Association secretary general Cui Dongshu said. His view is more optimistic than that of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, another industry group, which has forecast a decline of 15 per cent to 25 per cent.