June 16, 2019
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China auto sales fall for 11th month, industry braces for new regulations

 An Iconiq concept car sits on display during a media day of the Auto Shanghai 2019 motor show in Shanghai, China, Apr. 17, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/WU HONG

An Iconiq concept car sits on display during a media day of the Auto Shanghai 2019 motor show in Shanghai, China, Apr. 17, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/WU HONG

Shanghai (China), Jun 12 (efe-epa).- Shanghai (China), Jun 12 (EFE).- China's auto sales declined for the 11th straight month in May, falling 16.4 percent from a year earlier to 1.91 million as the prolonged downturn in the country's automotive sector showed no sign of abating, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report made available to EFE on Wednesday.

For the first five months of 2019, vehicle sales fell 13 percent from a year ago, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Wednesday.

Passenger car sales were down 15.2 percent during the period, while sales of commercial vehicles were off by 1.3 percent.

Electric vehicle sales continued to grow strongly, however, reaching 464,000 in the January to May period, up 41.5 percent from the previous year.

With 104,000 units sold last month, EVs accounted for 5.4 percent of total vehicle sales, Dow Jones added in its report made available to EFE.

Market saturation in China's wealthiest cities and a credit crunch in smaller cities have combined with weak confidence in the Chinese economy to depress sales since mid-2018.

While some analysts expect a rebound later this year, tough new emissions regulations - which come into force across much of China on July 1 - are disrupting the industry's efforts to stage a fight-back, according to officials at the manufacturers' association.

The regulations have left dealers scrambling to shift thousands of older vehicles before selling them becomes illegal at the end of this month, often by offering steep discounts.

While that could deliver a temporary boost in unit sales, it is likely to worsen financial losses for auto makers already struggling in China, analysts said.

Export sales were also affected, according to a Dow Jones report made available to EFE.

The Port of Long Beach, a major United States gateway, said a prolonged tariff spat between America and China will rattle supply chains long-term. "Escalating tariffs pushed retailers to order early," noted Executive Director Mario Cordero, so "warehouses are brimming with inventory and carriers are managing their vessels to deal with reduced demand. We are hopeful Washington and Beijing can resolve their differences before we see long-term changes to the supply chain that impact jobs in both nations."

Cargo volumes at the port skidded 17 percent in May from a year earlier, with incoming container volume down 19.5 percent on year and outbound off 12 percent.

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