Car sales dampened by chip shortage, COVID measures

SHANGHAI/BERLIN, May 26 (Reuters) - Car sales in China, Europe and the United States remain depressed compared to last year's levels as semiconductor shortages and anti-pandemic measures weigh on global autos markets, data showed on Thursday.

Chinese retail car sales grew in May from April but were still down 16% year-on-year, according to the Chinese Passenger Car Association, which called for more government support for the industry. read more

In Europe, data from auto consultancy JATO showed new car sales down 20%, with electric vehicles (EVs), which many automakers have prioritised amid supply chain troubles, also down by 1.4%.

The fall was driven by a 15% drop in sales of plug-in hybrid EVs, whose environmental credentials are coming under growing scrutiny from European regulators. read more

In the U.S., total sales were down 21% year-on-year, according to research by Deutsche Bank, with last year's sales bumped up by a post-lockdown release of pent-up demand.

"We expect sales to recover sequentially further through the year," the report said.

Overall, car sales in China in the first quarter were 0.2% higher than last year, data showed. By contrast, Europe's year-to-date sales were down 13% by JATO's figures, at their second lowest level since 1991.

Still, further economic data from China paints a picture of a grinding and only partial economic recovery from anti-pandemic measures.

Road freight transportation and express delivery from distribution centres last week were both stronger than a month earlier but still down sharply on last year, Nomura Global Economics said.

Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng (9868.HK) is accelerating deliveries after resuming double-shift production in mid-May at its plant in the southern city Zhaoqing, the chairman of the company, He Xiaopeng, told analysts this week.

Tesla (TSLA.O) added a second shift at its Shanghai plant on Thursday, heading towards making 2,600 cars daily, a person familiar with the matter said.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Zhang Yan and Brenda Goh; Victoria Waldersee in Berlin; Editing by Bradley Perrett, David Evans and Bernadette Baum

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