Truck surge boosts market as economy upshifts

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BEIJING/SHANGHAI — Auto sales in China rose 11.6 percent in June from a year earlier to 2.3 million units, driven largely by strong demand for trucks and other commercial vehicles as Beijing ramps up infrastructure spending to revive the economy.

In a further sign the world’s largest auto market is recovering from coronavirus lockdowns, auto wholesales in June rose for the third straight month to 2.3 million units, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the country’s largest auto industry body.

Sales of trucks, vans and other commercial vehicles, which constitute for around a quarter of overall market, surged 63 percent, while sales of passenger vehicles rose only 1.8 percent.

“The sales of trucks were driven by investment, and they were strong in past months, which was a precursor to the recovery of economic activity,” said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy AutoForesight.

Overall auto sales growth also was helped by supportive local government, said CAAM official Chen Shihua.

“After local consumption promotion policies expire, market demand may also decline.”

June’s jump in overall sales follows a rise of 14.5 percent in May and 4.4 percent in April, before which sales had languished in a nearly two-year slump. Sales of commercial vehicles jumped 48 percent in May and 32 percent in April.

Automakers such as Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., Great Wall Motor, Tesla Inc. and Ford Motor Co. reported sales growth in China in June.

However, sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) fell for the twelfth straight month, to 104,000 units. NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in petrol-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Despite recent signs of improvement, China’s auto sales are expected to fall by 10-20 percent for the year as a whole due to their earlier collapse, from over 25 million units sold in 2019, CAAM said last month.

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Saurabh Shukla

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