China car sales mark first gain in almost two years as virus curbs ease

An employee wearing a protective mask and gloves looks over the display floor inside an Audi AG dealership in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on Monday, April 6 2020. Across China, the world's biggest car market, vehicle sales have been picking up since early February, albeit from almost zero.
An employee wearing a protective mask and gloves looks over the display floor inside an Audi AG dealership in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on Monday, April 6 2020. Across China, the world's biggest car market, vehicle sales have been picking up since early February, albeit from almost zero.
Image: Bloomberg / Getty Images

China's monthly car sales rose for the first time in almost two years in April, industry data showed, as more customers visited showrooms after the economy began to open up and authorities loosened coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Car sales in April hit 2.07 million units in the world's biggest car market, up 4.4% from a year earlier, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), the country's largest auto industry association.

This follows a 43% drop in March and a sharper 79% plunge in February as the pandemic pummelled car demand. Monthly car sales in China last rose in June 2018.

The number of new energy vehicles (NEVs) sold fell for a tenth straight month to 72,000 units, the data showed. NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

The global car industry has been hit hard by the health crisis, but there is growing optimism of improvement in business in China as the country has largely contained the outbreak and started easing lockdown measures.

Volkswagen reported positive China sales in April, while General Motors' China ventures saw double-digit year-on-year growth last month.


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