SHANGHAI: China’s car market sustained its recent run of growth in August, continuing to expand after a weak start to the year brought about by a rise in China’s auto-sales tax. Total vehicle sales increased 5.3%, compared with August 2016, to 2.19 million, according to the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That was consistent with the 6.2% expansion recorded in July, and with June’s 3.8% growth. So far this year the Chinese auto market has grown 4.3% compared with the first eight months of last year, but worryingly for many auto makers, passenger-car sales continue to lag. They expanded only 2.2% during the January to August period, although August sales, up 4.1%, beat this year’s average. Sales of commercial vehicles, up 16.9% so far this year and up 12.8% in August, improved the overall picture.
Last year Chinese passenger-car sales surged 16%, but the growing maturity of the world’s largest auto market, coupled with January’s sales-tax increase, has tempered demand this term. “Looking ahead, auto sales face increased pressure,” said Chen Shihua, the assistant secretary general of the manufacturers’ association, warning that there were no grounds to expect a marked improvement in passenger-car sales growth in the remaining months of 2017.