A Chinese carmaker's employees work at a factory in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, yesterday. Passenger car sales in China fell 1.4 percent in the first two months of this year. [Shanghai Daily]
Passenger car sales in China, the world's largest auto market, declined 1.4 percent in the first two months of this year as rising gasoline prices weakened demand of potential auto buyers.
The deliveries of cars, sport-utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and minivans totaled 2.29 million units for January and February, the China Passenger Car Association said.
Although sales in February grew 22.3 percent annually to 1.09 million units they were still 6.7 percent lower from January. "The market demand in February would be worse if orders taken last year were excluded," said Rao Da, secretary-general of the association.
"The continued increase in fuel prices also brought a lot of pressure on potential auto buyers," Rao added.
Fuel prices hit a new record high after climbing by over 3 percent from February 8, further driving customers away from the showrooms.
Most carmakers reported promising vehicle sales last month but that was mainly due to a low comparable base for last February when production was suspended during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
Ford Motor Corp said February sales in China gained 28 percent annually to 31,934 units on higher demand for its new Mondeo sedan and Transit commercial vehicles.
General Motors, the largest foreign carmaker in China, boosted sales by 30 percent to 240,554 units last month. Toyota sales jumped 51 percent in February.
UBS Securities estimated China's auto sales will grow 10.6 percent to 20.5 million units this year, with passenger car sales rising 13 percent to 13.8 million units, according to its latest report.