China vehicle sales to fall 8% this year

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - A staff member cleans a Mercedes car during the Auto China show in Beijing. Vehicle sales in China are set to fall about 8% this year. Image Credit: AP

Vehicle sales in China are set to fall about 8% this year, an industry body said, the second straight annual drop for the world’s biggest auto market as consumers stay away from showrooms amid a cooling economy.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers gave the estimate on Thursday in Changsha, China. The drop compares with about a 3% decline in 2018, when sales fell for the first time since 1990.

The intensity of the 2019 slump has surprised the industry group, which a year ago predicted that annual sales would be little changed. The body is set to give a sales forecast for 2020 later on Thursday.

The China slump has left global automakers with few growth regions as sales also wane in Europe and the U.S. The industry is suffering as trade tensions and tariffs raise costs, just as competition from ride-hailing and car-sharing services reduce the need for individual car ownership.

Market leader Volkswagen AG and rivals such as Honda Motor Co., Daimler AG and BMW AG have continued to invest in the country of 1.4 billion people throughout the slowdown in the hopes that demand will pick up.

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