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China leads global auto sales out of slump, while Japan lags

US and Europe see light at end of tunnel as dealerships reopen

A Volkswagen dealership in the U.K. waits for customers on June 1. Auto sales in Britain appear to be bottoming out.   © Reuters

NEW YORK/FRANKFURT/TOKYO -- Auto sales have returned to growth in China and begun to show signs of improvement in the U.S. and Europe as coronavirus lockdowns ease, but the effects of a consumption tax hike still have Japan going in the wrong direction.

China, the first country hit by the outbreak, has been quick to recover. Sales there are now back to pre-coronavirus levels of growth.

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