March 11, 2019 / 6:51 AM / 6 months ago

China auto sales fall 14 pct in February, mark eighth month of decline

BEIJING, March 11 (Reuters) - China’s automobile sales fell 13.8 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, the country’s biggest auto industry association said on Monday, marking the eighth consecutive month of decline in the world’s largest auto market.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said sales fell to 1.48 million vehicles. That followed declines of 16 percent in January and 13 percent in December.

New energy vehicle sales, in contrast, rose 53.6 percent year-on-year in February, it said.

The figures come as China plans billions of dollars in tax cuts and infrastructure spending to support an economy growing at its slowest pace in almost 30 years due to softer domestic demand and a trade war with the United States.

The government is now trying to persuade consumers to spend and has pledged subsidies to boost rural sales of some vehicles as well as the sales of new energy vehicles.

The sales picture from some Chinese automakers has so far been mixed, with Great Wall Motor Co Ltd reporting 18 percent growth for February, whereas Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd reported a 24 percent decline.

Industry executives also said China’s car sales in January and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, around which consumers often hold off on car-buying decisions.

The holiday’s dates change annually but tend to occur in either month. This year, it took place in the first week of February. (Reporting by Yilei Sun in BEIJING and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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