BEIJING -- China's auto sales in July climbed 16 percent from a year earlier, the fourth consecutive month of gains as the world's biggest vehicle market comes off lows hit during the country's coronavirus lockdown.
Sales rose to 2.11 million vehicles in July but are still down 13 percent for the year to date at 12.37 million vehicles, according to wholesale sales data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
Sales of trucks and other commercial vehicles, which constitute around a quarter of the market, surged 59 percent, driven by government investment in infrastructure as well as tougher emission rules introduced this year. Sales of passenger vehicles rose 8.5 percent.
The association expects auto sales to fall around 10 percent this year barring a second wave of virus infections, which could deepen the slide to around 20 percent.
In a promising sign for many global automakers that have invested heavily in EVs for the China market, sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) ended 12 straight months of decline with a 19 percent jump to 98,000 units.
"The sales growth shows NEV makers and customers are getting used to the new normal after the government cut subsidies last year," said Xu Haidong, a senior CAAM official.
The automakers' group expects NEV sales of 1.1 million vehicles this year, a drop of around 11 percent from last year.
NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
Tesla, which started deliveries from its huge new Shanghai factory around the start of 2020, has quickly grabbed market leadership in pure electric vehicles and been a rare example of a EV maker boosting monthly registrations this year. Tesla sold 11,014 vehicles last month in China and kept its top spot in battery-powered cars, the China Passenger Car Association (PCA) said.
BYD ranked No. 1 in total NEV sales in July with about 14,000 units, PCA said. The company, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, was helped by sales of both pure electric cars as well as plug-in hybrids.