Breath of Life: Chinese car market reviving

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— China’s car market has seen an uptick in sales as the country’s lockdown limitations were eased last week.

Dealerships across the country began slowly reopening their doors in early April. In Wuhan, a city with a population of 11 million known as China’s automotive hub, dealerships and manufacturers have been back in business for merely a week, yet the staff at some have said daily sales have rebounded to pre-crisis levels.

“I was pretty shocked,” said Zhang Jiaqi, a sales representative at an Audi dealer in the Wuchang district of Wuhan, which is now recording sales matching its year-earlier levels. “It’s like a boom after a two-month dormancy. I thought sales would be frozen.”

In February, Chinese auto sales had dropped 79 percent from 2019 statistics. Overall, car sales declined 42 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year, according to data released last week by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). 

Analysts say that, had it been a normal year, China would have sold more than 6 million new cars by April. Instead, that total sits just under 3.7 million. 

According to Cai Ronghua, a senior official at China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the drop has “not affected long-term trends in the industry,” so far. He did, however, emphasize that, if global auto production and sales continue to decline, “it will not only affect the industry itself but also affect the resumption of production in other industries.” But, so far, auto production “has not been affected by global auto parts supply disruption.”

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