BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales sank 48.4% in March from a year ago as the economy reeled from the coronavirus, according to an industry group, adding to strains for the struggling industry in its biggest global market.
Sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans totaled just over 1 million, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, declined 43.3% to 1.4 million.
The decline was an improvement over February’s record-setting 81.7% sales plunge after auto dealerships and other businesses were shut down to fight the try to stop the virus’s spread.
The ruling Communist Party started reopening factories, restaurants and stores in March after declaring victory over the outbreak. But consumers who are uneasy about potential job losses or a resurgence of the virus are reluctant to make big purchases.
“On the consumer side, since the epidemic has not completely ended, some market demand is still being suppressed,” the CAAM said in a statement Friday.
EV sales for the first three months of the year were off 56.4% at 114,000. China is the biggest market for electrics, accounting for about half of last year’s global sales.
EV demand sank in mid-2019 when Beijing ended multibillion-dollar subsidies to producers and buyers and shifted the burden to the industry by requiring automakers to make a portion of their sales electric.