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China auto sales slump 11.7% in March on COVID surge

Outbreak expected to depress full-year sales by 1m vehicles

Volkswagen was forced to halt production at its Chinese joint venture facilities in response to the country's surge of COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Shunsuke Tabeta)

BEIJING -- Sales of new automobiles in China shrank by 11.7% on the year in March, the first decline in three months, driven by a sharp increase in coronavirus infections in the country.

Vehicle sales last month totaled 2.23 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported Monday. The lower volume came courtesy of a series of plant stoppages in COVID-19 hot spots.

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