SHANGHAI – As the semiconductor chip crunch eased, China’s light-vehicle sales approached 3.7 million in the first two months, an advance of 14 percent over 2021 and even exceeding the level in the same pre-pandemic period in 2019.
But the market expansion will be short lived as Beijing upholds a zero-tolerance policy to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has become increasingly transmissible and stealthy though mutations.
Despite stringent quarantine and travel rules, the number of locally transmitted daily infections across China surged to above 1,000 last week from below 100 in February. Nearly all of the new cases are caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus, according to official statistics.
The infection levels are small compared with those in Western countries. But the outbreak is considered the worst since early 2020 when the pandemic took root.
As required by cities where infections are spiking, several major vehicle manufacturers have suspended output this week to allow employees to undergo nucleic acid tests.
On Sunday, the south China megacity of Shenzhen, where BYD Co. -- China’s largest domestic electrified-vehicle maker -- is based, entered a week-long lockdown.