China auto sales rise as electrics surge


Associated Press

BEIJING

China’s auto sales rose 7.9 percent in May from a year ago as purchases of electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles more than doubled to 102,000, an industry group reported Tuesday.

Sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans rose to 1.9 million, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 9.6 percent to 2.3 million.

Year-to-date sales rose 5.1 percent to 9.9 million, rebounding from 2017’s annual growth of 1.4 percent.

Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrids rose 126 percent, with sales through May rising 142 percent to 328,000.

Beijing has spent heavily to transform China into the world’s biggest electric-car market and is preparing to enforce sales quotas to press global automakers to speed up development.

The Finance Ministry says auto-import duties will be reduced from 25 percent to 15 percent on most vehicles effective July 1. That followed pledges to buy more U.S. goods and end restrictions on foreign ownership in the industry.

Ford Motor Co. responded by announcing a price cut on imported models. But industry analysts say Ford, General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, among others, are likely to gain little in sales because most of their vehicles sold in China are produced in local factories.

They say the tariff cut is likely to benefit high-end European and Japanese brands (BMW AG, VW’s Audi unit and Toyota Motor Co.’s Lexus) that import more of their vehicles, as well as Tesla, the electric car brand that has no China factory.

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