Car sales declined 42% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year, according to data released late last week by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). While that is largely because of a whopping 79% plunge in February — when the country of 1.4 billion people recorded just 310,000 sales — the market remains very weak. Only 1.43 million vehicles were sold in China last month, a 43% decline over March 2019.
The auto industry plays a crucial role in China’s economy. More than 40 million people in the country rely on the sector for jobs, either directly or indirectly. The industry generates more than $1 trillion in revenue each year, roughly 10% of China’s manufacturing output.
A healthy Chinese car market is also important to the rest of the world. Global automakers like Volkswagen (VLKAF) and General Motors (GM) sell millions of
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Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) announced Wednesday that its first-quarter sales in the United States fell by 10% even though sales were up the first two months of the quarter.
“Strong momentum in January and February was more than offset by the negative economic impact of the coronavirus in March,” said the company.
General Motors (GM) reported a 7% drop in sales for the quarter, which it attributed to the sharp decline in March sales because of the virus outbreak.
Neither company would release the month-by-month sales figures. But Toyota (TM) reported results for both March and the quarter. Its daily sales pace plunged 32% in March, while its overall sales in the month fell 37%, hurt in addition by one fewer sales day in the month. Overall, its first-quarter sales fell 9%, similar to the declines reported at Ford and GM. So it’s possible that
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