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Chinese auto exports rise, partly offsetting a decline in domestic sales

Chinese auto exports rise, partly offsetting a decline in domestic sales

Chinese auto exports rise, partly offsetting a decline in domestic sales

New cars for export wait for transport on a car carrier ship at a shipyard in Yantai, east China’s Shandong province, on November 2, 2023. China’s auto sales fell in June 2024 as the domestic economy remains weak, but strong exports helped push overall sales growth into positive territory, an industry association said on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. Credit: Chinatopix via AP, File

China’s auto sales fell in June as the domestic economy remained weak, but strong exports offset the decline at home, an industry association said on Wednesday.

Sales in China fell 7.4% from a year earlier to 1.8 million units, while exports rose 29% to 400,000 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a monthly report.

In the first six months of the year, exports rose 31.5 percent, while domestic sales rose 1.6 percent. The export surge comes amid growing concerns in Europe and the United States that cheap, Chinese-made cars could overwhelm established automakers in the West.

While much of the concern has focused on China’s flashy and moderately priced electric cars, export growth has been concentrated in gasoline-powered vehicles. They rose 36% in the first half of the year and accounted for 78% of vehicle exports. China’s EV exports fell 2.3%, while hybrids rose 180% from a smaller base.

Exports are offsetting weaker sales of gasoline cars in China as the overall market stagnates and buyers switch to electric cars and hybrids.

Russia is by far the largest and still fast-growing export market, with Chinese manufacturers filling a gap left by the departure of other automakers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Other significant markets include Brazil and Mexico in Latin America, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, and Belgium and the UK in Europe.

The European Union last week imposed provisional import duties on Chinese electric vehicles, saying government subsidies give Chinese carmakers an unfair advantage.

Chinese manufacturers are moving production abroad. BYD, the country’s largest EV maker, opened a factory in Thailand last week and plans to build factories in Brazil, Hungary and Turkey.

The sales decline in China was the second consecutive monthly decline. Separate figures from the China Passenger Car Association showed three straight months of declining sales. A severe property crisis has dampened economic growth and dented consumer confidence.

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