BEIJING/SHANGHAI — China's automobile sales fell about 14 percent in November from a year earlier, the country's top auto industry association said, marking the steepest such drop in nearly seven years in the world's largest auto market.
The drop in sales to 2.55 million vehicles, a fifth straight decline in monthly numbers, comes against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and a crippling China-U.S. trade war.
It was the steepest decline since January 2012, when the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday hurt auto sales.
The November drop comes on the heels of almost 12 percent declines in each of the past two months, putting China on track for an annual sales contraction not seen since at least 1990.
Economic shifts, weakness in smaller cities and "international reasons" hurt November sales, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said.
The industry body, which has previously cited the impact of a sluggish economy and the U.S.-China trade war for the slowdown in the auto market, forecast annual sales would drop 3 percent.
"We're currently in a painful period, and this process is really tough," Xu Haidong, CAAM assistant secretary general, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
China car sales totaled 25.4 million vehicles in the first eleven months of the year, down 1.7 percent from the same period a year earlier, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.