By on May 7, 2020

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reports that April was healthier than expected, resulting in an estimated 2 million new vehicle sales. This would be the first time in a couple years the market has seen any monthly growth, with CAAM taking to the Tencent-owned WeChat to announce a single-percent gain over April 2019.

Considering the pandemic is anticipated to suppress global auto sales by anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, it seems premature to call anything a victory. Likewise, influence from the Chinese Communist Party has made any statistics coming out of the country highly suspect. Much of the world is currently under the impression that the nation’s leadership is in an all-out effort to project the country’s strength after failing to share helpful information in a timely manner and downplaying its coronavirus-related deaths. We don’t know what information is credible, especially since all groups (which includes individuals, state institutions, and corporations) are required by law to have direct ties to China’s only political party.

So that’s it then? It’s all bunk? Not quite. While there are plenty of reasons to doubt information coming out of China, there are also reasons to buy what CAAM is selling. 

Since COVID-19 originated in China, its market was expected to enter into recovery before other regions gained the opportunity. As businesses reopened and lockdowns orders eased, customers could have flocked to dealerships to make up for lost time. CAAM’s numbers also mimic what’s being reported by some manufacturers. Volkswagen’s top dog in China, Stephan Wöllenstein, recently said that his businesses saw an improvement:

“We are witnessing an outstanding economic comeback. In late winter, the whole of China was effectively in lockdown. Now, by early summer, we can look forward to a return to normal in the country’s car market. In April, Volkswagen Group China’s deliveries were even able to grow compared to the previous year.

This comeback was made possible by a joint effort from customers, government and the automotive industry. We have left the deepest valleys behind us, and are now on the climb to the peaks again. After a total market downturn of 80 [percent] in February, 40 [percent] in March, and an April around 10 [percent] down, we are returning to normality. However, the big question is if the second half of the year will make up the dent of loss in the first half. Should the current trend continue, we at Volkswagen Group China can be cautiously optimistic and forecast a yearly result that is not so far away from our original plan. Looking back at the beginning of the year, this might seem like a miracle, but it was made possible by an incredible team effort.”

Frankly it does seem like a miracle. However it’s one that has been echoed by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (which gained 2 percent in April) and SAIC Motor’s joint venture with General Motors, according to The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, they’re the outliers. Meanwhile, local governments started offering cash subsidies of as much as $1,400 per vehicle to encourage sales. We haven’t a clue of how many people are actually included in those stimulus plans.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers noted that its data was provisional and subject to change. Last month’s modest improvement over April 2019 could ultimately end up being a loss — another reason we’re hesitant to call this a comeback. We also know some Chinese factories are still contending with supply hiccups caused by prolonged shutdowns, meaning we’ll probably have to watch recovery efforts for a while before coming to any conclusions.

Still, it’s encouraging to see any market progressing back to normalcy. Even if CAAM’s numbers are fudged, it’d be unlikely that it could attempt to do so by any gigantic margin without someone noticing. China’s auto sales are almost assuredly improving, but beating last year’s figures seems like an incredibly optimistic assessment. Again, we’re waiting to see if the outlet revises its figures after the passage of time.

[Image: OLOS/Shutterstock]

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16 Comments on “Did Chinese Auto Sales Recover Last Month?...”

  • avatar

    This China Plague is real bad -everywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      and China now says it came from the US

      China is like the NYTimes, what it reports cannot be trusted because the party line is what they report

      • 0 avatar


      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        China is a communist dictatorship…of course they are lying…it’s what they do!

        The question is what do we do about it? Do we go back to business as usual because even though they are lying commies they work for cheap or do we begin to pull back by at least disconnecting them from industries like medical and food and preferably others.

        American’s have a short memory sadly and it being an election year will ensure China gets off pretty much scot free…we will be to busy blaming whatever party we don’t belong to and by time that is over we will have moved on to Sharks or Kim Kardashian’s butt or something far more interesting than holding China accountable in my cynical opinion.

        Yes, they work cheap. But you know what, if we aren’t going to build stuff here is it really so terrible to invest in our southern neighbor? They work pretty cheap too and they don’t see us an enemy.

        • 0 avatar

          @art: agree with you on all points. What do we do about it? We already have the National Center for Medical Intelligence within the Defense Intelligence Agency precisely because we can’t trust other countries to tell us about these outbreaks. What happened this time? NCMI should have been sounding all kinds of alarms and probably was.

        • 0 avatar

          These days, the PRC is more of a fascist dictatorship.

          Private businesses, but they have to adhere to the govt. line.

          It’s the progressives and liberals in HK who are fighting to keep their individual rights (same as in Russia, at least those who have managed to escape imprisonment or death).

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @thornamark Which party line does the NY Times report? Cocktail? Birthday? Oh wait! It must be the Dimmycrat Party because you don’t like them at all. Not even a little itty bitty bit. Oh, oh I think I’m beginning to understand; if it’s not owned by Murdoch or his News Corporation, they lie. Not only do they lie, but everything they print is a lie. Sordid, tawdry never ending lies that only seek to besmirch those who should be fawned over, each and every person in the Trump administration. I’m sure I’m not the only one on here who is tired of the tin-foil hat squad reaching into each others jockey’s and mutually satisfying each others needs. Your reach around buddies should also understand that posting four or five comments in a row is not establishing facts. It just creates noise letting others draw their own (not good) conclusions. Y’all wanna talk about cars I’m down with that and will be courteous. Don’t want to talk cars? Please take your political views elsewhere. Attempting to influence or make political comments on a car blog clearly demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the intended audience.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Expecting name calling in 3, 2, 1.

          • 0 avatar

            The editorial page of the NY Times is left of center. That’s fine; that’s where opinion belongs. Contrast that to Fox or the NY Post and the opinion is in the news story. How often does the Times print factual errors? Pretty damn rare.

          • 0 avatar

            This is a good chart showing not only media bias but media accuracy. It also differentiates between *news* and *opinion*.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I’m not sure Fox’s news coverage is any more slanted than CNN or MSNBC. The problem with all 3 of them is that they have about 1 hour of real news coverage a day surrounded by 23 hours of Hannity and Maddow types editorializing.

        • 0 avatar


          My cyber friend, why are you unleashing so much vitriol? You may have forgot that the CCP tossed out The Washington Post and The NY Times, right? It’s somewhat ironic.

          With regards to having a discussion about the topic, well, the article is not about just a specific model. No need to get so bent.

      • 0 avatar

        You must mean Faux Entertainment (note, not registered as a news organization).

        Of course the Chinazis are not above idiotic misinformation campaigns.

        Just look at the Orange Oaf’s entire administration and who do you think started the conspiracy theory that the virus was planted in the US by the Chinese military?

        The fascists (or fascist wannabes) in China, the US, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines, Hungary, etc. all have basically the same modus operandi – one major one being clamping down on the free press and replacing it w/ propaganda.

  • avatar

    Our idiot Governor Newsom, I call him Gavin Nuisance LOL, refused to buy masks from American manufacturers and instead paid billion $$ to BYD which did not deliver. Of course Chinese screwed him. Yeah, now lets make him president – he passed the test.

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