China Auto Sales Drop Again


China Auto Sales Drop Again
Various car models are displayed outside an auto retail store in Chongqing, China. © xujun /

Auto sales in China declined 1.9% in 2020 to 25.3 million units, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The decline was less than in 2019, when sales dropped 8.2% to 25.8 million units. That poor performance was attributed to the trade war between China and the United States and shaky consumer confidence. Sales have now fallen for three consecutive years. In 2018 they dropped 2.8% to 28.1 million vehicles – the first decline since 1990.

The association estimated passenger car sales at 20.2 million units for 2020, down 6%.

In 2020, sales of Chinese brand passenger vehicles declined 8.1% to 7.7 million, accounting for 38.4% of total passenger vehicle sales, which was 0.9 percentage points less than 2019.

Sales of new energy vehicles, which includes those powered by fuel cells but consists mostly of electric vehicles, increased 10.9% to 1.4 million. Sales of fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles both showed growth, the association said, and their sales performance was significantly better than in 2019.

Commercial vehicle sales increased 18.7% to 5.1 million units. Among commercial vehicle types, sales of passenger cars decreased slightly compared with the previous year, while sales of commercial trucks rose. In 2019, commercial vehicle sales dropped 1.1% to 4.3 million, which was considered a good result. At the time the association cited several favorable factors: a rebound in infrastructure investment, the elimination of vehicles that only met China national emission standard III, rapid development of new energy logistics vehicles, and the tightening of regulations.

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