China’s largest auto market will gradually recover and remain stable for a long time despite short-term pressures from the coronavirus epidemic, officials said on Thursday.
The statement came as officials from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen said demand was rebounding in China after restrictions on social life were relaxed and dealers reopened.
Auto sales in China fell 79% from the previous year in February due to the epidemic. However, the situation was temporary and did not affect long-term trends in the industry, said Cai Ronghua, a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at a press conference .
He noted the wider impact of any further slowdown in the sector.
“If production and sales of automobiles continue to fall, it will not only affect the industry itself, but will also affect the recovery of production in other industries, and may even affect the overall functioning of the economy, “said Cai, adding that auto production had not so far been affected by the disruption in the global supply of auto parts.
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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) plans to postpone the implementation of new gasoline emission standards in some provinces, said Wu Xianfeng, a senior MEE official.
Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker and best-selling Chinese manufacturer, said showroom traffic during the last weekend in March had rebounded from levels of the previous year after the reopening of its dealers while measures to contain the pandemic were relaxed.
The SAIC Volkswagen factory in Changsha resumed operations this week, handing over all but one of the VW group’s 33 car and component factories to China, said VW.
Volkswagen Group CEO in China Stephan Wöllenstein said: “Our dealers are seeing customers in showrooms again. There are growing signs of recovery, with the Chinese auto market likely to hit last year’s level in early summer. “
Daimler, owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand, said on Wednesday that demand in China has returned to near pre-crisis levels and that its Beijing plant has resumed production using a two-shift system.
“In China and South Korea, our dealerships are fully open and we are seeing a significant increase in demand there. It gives us confidence, “said Britta Seeger, member of the Daimler board of directors.
In addition to its Chinese factories, Daimler plans to resume production in its German factories in Untertuerkheim, Hamburg and Berlin on April 20, followed by ramp-up in its factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen.
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