BEIJING -- Auto industry executives in China met with government officials over the weekend to discuss ways to promote higher vehicle sales in rural areas, sources familiar with the matter said.
The country's car manufacturers are grappling with falling sales in the world's largest car market and are seeking new policies.
A senior official at the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, Zeng Guang, confirmed that the meeting had been organized in Beijing by the association's magazine, Auto Review.
He declined to provide details of the discussions but said participants agreed that the current sales decline was normal give how the China market is still developing.
Sources told Reuters the meeting was titled "cars for the rural areas", emphasizing the need to target sales outside of the country's cities where demand has been especially weak.
China's state planner issued a series of measures in June to revive slumping sales but the proposals have fallen short of automakers' expectations and done little to spur volume.
Sources with knowledge of the meeting said government officials told participants they were considering policies to expand the used-car market in rural areas and to improve vehicle scrappage policies. They also urged automakers to develop electric vehicles suitable for rural areas.
However, government officials warned that short-term stimulus policies would hurt the industry's long-term development and is not a route Beijing is eager to pursue. They did not make any commitments during the meeting, the sources said.
A senior official at CAAM told Reuters last month auto sales in China may drop around 8 percent to 26 million this year but were ultimately still on track to hit 30 million by 2023 with further headroom.
Government officials from the National Development & Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Commerce attended the meeting, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The NDRC, MIIT and the commerce ministry did not immediately respond to faxed requests for comment.
Executives from domestic car manufacturers and foreign firms' joint ventures were also in attendance, they said.
According to a document seen by Reuters, Volkswagen's local venture with FAW Group, General Motors' Guangxi-based venture with SAIC, Nissan's venture with Dongfeng and Chinese brands such as BYD were on the invitation list.
Volkswagen, General Motors, Nissan and BYD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.