Average daily retail sales of passenger cars in China fell 18 percent year-on-year in the first four weeks of March, with both the third and fourth weeks down 29 percent year-on-year.

Several cities in China have been impacted by the new Covid outbreak in the past half month, and this appears to have taken a toll on March vehicle sales.

During the first four weeks of March, daily retail sales of passenger cars in China averaged 39,000 units, down 18 percent year-on-year, according to preliminary data released today by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

The first two weeks of the month saw a mixed performance in China's auto sales, with average daily sales of 37,000 units in the first week, down 13 percent year-on-year, and 46,000 units in the second week, up 3 percent year-on-year, according to the CPCA.

The past two weeks have seen a serious decline in sales, with the third week averaging 35,000 units per day, down 29 percent year-on-year, and the fourth week at 39,000 units, also down 29 percent.

CPCA data hints at possible weakness in China March auto sales due to Covid-CnEVPost

(Image credit: CPCA)

The unusual performance of the auto market in the third week of the month was due to the severe impact of Covid on production in some regions and the suspension of consumption, which led to a broad-based sales pullback, the CPCA said.

The impact of the cessation of activity in some production sites exceeded expectations, and it is difficult to judge the overall market situation throughout March for now, the CPCA noted.

However, given the pressure on dealers to meet their sales targets, the last week should see a pulse in end-of-season deliveries, the CPCA said, adding that there is no need to be too pessimistic about retail sales in March.

As for the new energy vehicle (NEV) market, the CPCA said that while more car companies have raised prices since March, this has had little impact on short-term sales of NEVs.

"The price increase is actually the result of the balance between supply and demand, in the case of strong demand, car companies have the courage to raise prices," the CPCA said.

Current nickel and lithium resources are generally abundant and fully capable of coping with battery demand in the coming period, the CPCA said, adding that battery supply will ensure that NEV production and sales continue to rise.

Major Chinese automakers are expected to announce their March deliveries on Friday, April 1, when it will become clear whether their deliveries have been affected by Covid.

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