China's Aug auto sales jump 32% with strong EV demand

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SHANGHAI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - China's auto sales reached 2.38 million units in August, increasing 32.1% from a year ago, as they extended a recovery led by electric vehicles (EV) whose sales have been boosted by government incentives.

Sales for the first eight months were 1.7% higher than the same period in 2021, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed on Friday.

August sales of new energy vehicles, which include pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, increased 100% from the previous year.

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CAAM tracks broader auto sales including passenger vehicles, buses and trucks while the China Passenger Car Association, which reported July sales on Thursday, focuses on retail sales of cars.

China's vehicle exports also increased 65% from a year ago, CAAM added, with electric vehicles accounting for 27% of them.

FILE PHOTO: Cars drive on the road during the morning rush hour in Beijing, China, July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

August sales, however, were 1.5% lower than July, as power restrictions affected production of automakers and China's longest and most intense heatwave since records began in 1961 reduced customer visits to showrooms.

With the economy sputtering, China has tried to revive auto demand with incentives such as a lower sales tax for small-engine vehicles and subsidies to spur trade-ins of gasoline vehicles for electric ones.

But more cities including Shenzhen and Chengdu have imposed fresh lockdowns as Beijing sticks to its "dynamic zero" COVID policy to stamp out every infection chain.

Those measures are weighing on the industry again with automakers such as Volvo (VOLCARb.ST), Toyota (7203.T) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) either suspending production or putting their factories into closed-loop systems, which generally still impacts output.

The sector was hit hard earlier in the year, with months of stringent lockdowns in the major manufacturing hubs of Shanghai and Changchun.

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Reporting by Zhang Yan, Brenda Goh and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill

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