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China auto sales fall again in 2019 amid trade war

China's auto sales fell for a second year in 2019 as a trade war with Washington and an economic slowdown fueled consumer anxiety and demand for electric vehicles weakened, an industry group reported Monday.
Sales in the industry's biggest global market declined 9.6% from 2018 levels to 21.4 million sedans, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The downturn is squeezing global and Chinese automakers at a time when they are spending billions of dollars to meet government targets to sell electric vehicles.
After two decades of explosive growth, China suffered its first annual decline in auto sales in 2018 as unease over the tariff war with President Donald Trump and slowing economic growth prompted consumers to put off big purchases.
Sales in December were off 0.1% from a year earlier, CAAM said. That would be an improvement over double-digit declines in previous months. The group gave no December sales total, but based on other data given it would be about 2.2 million vehicles.
Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrid sedans and SUVs in 2019 sank 4% over a year earlier to 1.2 million. That would still make China the technology's biggest market by far, accounting for at least half of global purchases.
Monthly sales of electric vehicles rose by double digits in early 2019 but plunged after Beijing ended government subsidies to buyers in July. Regulators shifted the burden of promoting the technology to automakers by imposing mandatory sales targets.


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