China's Car Sales Fall Further

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Downward pressure in the market still remains as the Chinese government has yet to introduce and policies to stimulate growth in the market.

The first half of 2019 will likely continue to see depressed vehicle sales figures in China as purchase tax cuts introduced in 2016 and 2017 prompted many buyers to make their purchases earlier than planned and have no need to buy now.

Sales are now down 15.8% year to year, with only 2.37 million vehicles finding new owners last month, as per the Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). In addition, trade woes, political upheaval and diesel's demise are hurting consumer sentiment, while the increasing availability of ride-hailing and car-sharing services makes it less necessary to own a vehicle. Japan is sputtering too, while volumes in other smaller markets aren't enough to offset the declines in the biggest sales regions.

Retail sales dropped 4% to 2.18 million units, China Passenger Car Association said.

China's vehicle market will probably be little changed in 2019, CAAM predicts. It took place in the first week of February this year. Volkswagen, the No. 1 foreign manufacturer on the mainland, is expecting further growth for the company this year, but has predicted the overall Chinese market to shrink in the first half.

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It follows more than 20 years of sustained growth in China, though it can be a fickle market for the unready, as Jaguar Land Rover has discovered with the cost of a $US3.9 billion write-down this year already.

"Car Sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement".

"Q1 sales were good last year, so this year the industry expects to have negative growth in the first quarter", Yale Zhang, head of consultancy AutoForesight, told Reuters, but he predicts sales will gradually pick up in the next three quarters.

Then there's Trump, who has threatened a tariff of as much as 25 percent on imported autos, risking a further hit to vehicle demand and carmakers' bottom lines.

There was still a bright spot though last month.

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