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China car sales up 34% on April but still weaker than last year


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Cars travel on roads during morning rush hour in Beijing China. July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters). The May Chinese retail sales data shows that there has been a steady economic recovery, with more vehicle sales than in the previous month. However, this is still a far cry from the year prior.

China Passenger Car Association, which released data on Wednesday evening, demanded that more government support be provided.

The retail sales for the three first weeks of May were 780,000 cars, an increase of 34% over the April period. The industry association stated that sales volumes were 16% less than they had been 12 months ago due to COVID-19-related income drops.

China had a severe restriction on social interaction and movement last month. Although rules vary between places, they have been relaxed in areas where they are most strict like Shanghai.

In the first quarter, automobile sales were 0.2% more than last year. Sales for 2021 were 3.8% higher.

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Other indicators that are near real-time show a similar picture, showing a slowing and partial recovery.

Nomura Global Economics stated that road freight and express delivery to distribution centers were up last week, but down significantly from last year.

According to the passenger car association, stimulus programs from local governments will only provide short-term support. The association urged the authorities to take stronger measures to get the sector back on track to sustainable recovery.

China’s policymakers met with automakers earlier in the month to discuss the possibility of extending subsidies to electric vehicles. These subsidies were due to end in 2022. The goal is to grow a market that has been largely ignored by slowing economies.

China’s fastest-growing market segment is the electric vehicle and plug in hybrid sales. It has been an area that established international brands such as General Motors and Volkswagen (ETR) have trailed by large margins local businesses.

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Xpeng is accelerating its deliveries, He Xiaopeng, chairman, said this week to analysts. The company has resumed double-shift production in late May at its southern plant Zhaoqing. The region’s COVID-related outbreaks had prevented the recovery of supplies of the parts, He stated.

According to an insider, Tesla (NASDAQ) added a second shift to its Shanghai plant, moving towards producing 2,600 vehicles per day.

Tesla did not immediately respond to our request for comment.