Chinese monthly vehicle sales surged for the first time in nearly two years after the country opened up for business again, fueling expectations of an industry recovery from the Coronavirus.

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The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers revealed that automakers shipped 2 million vehicles to dealerships and stores in April, up 0.9 per cent from a year earlier.

That is the first increase since June 2018. However, deliveries dropped about 32 per cent in the first four months to 5.67 million units, according to the trade body.

The April figure supports the growing expectation that the world’s largest auto market is on the mend after China largely contained the coronavirus pandemic that shut down much of its economy.

Volkswagen Group said Wednesday sales had increased in China, helped by consumers seeking to avoid buses and trains. Chinese authorities have also introduced a slew of measures to prop up car sales.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The road back

Car sales in China are falling for a third year as the virus worsens a slump kicked off by a slowing economy, trade tensions and stricter emissions regulations.

As the outbreak eases in China, the government has been working to stimulate industry growth and help the economy rebound.

Regulators have extended tax breaks and subsidies on electric-vehicle purchases for two years, while sales of light trucks that do not meet the latest China VI emission standards will be allowed for six months after a previous deadline of July 1.

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Financial institutions are also encouraged to lower down payments and interest rates on car loans and to extend repayment periods.

Whether or not the increase in deliveries is sustainable, it provides the world’s automakers with a glimmer of hope for recovery and a sense of what other countries may face as they emerge from lockdowns.

CAAM’s figures — which represent wholesale deliveries, not purchases by consumers — are preliminary and finalized data is scheduled to be released on May 11.

Retail numbers are expected to be announced by the China Passenger Car Association next week.