HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Passenger cars sales in China dropped in February as weak consumer sentiment and a slowing economy cast a shadow over the world's largest automobile market.
Sales of passenger cars fell 17.4% to 1.22 million units, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, or CAAM, said on its website on Monday.
SAIC Motor and FAW Group were the two largest companies by monthly sales in February. Last month, they sold 360,000 units and 190,400 units, respectively, the data showed
Sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles fell 13.8% to 1.48 million units, while commercial vehicles saw an 8% increase during the month.
The sales in February were hurt by weak demand during the Chinese New Year, CAAM said.
The slump in February marks the eighth straight monthly decline in auto sales, according to Reuters.
China's domestic automobile market contracted for the first time in more than two decades last year. Vehicle sales in China fell 15.8% in January, following a 2.8% decrease last year.
Last week, Geely Automobile Holdings posted a 24% slump in February sales. The company cited an early arrival of the Chinese New Year holiday this year for the decline. Rival Great Wall Motor Company reported a jump in February sales, helped by a surge in demand for its popular Haval model of sport utility vehicles.
The weakness in overall sales was despite stepped-up efforts by the government to stimulate the domestic economy, which is growing at the slowest pace in three decades amid a trade war with the U.S.
At the National People's Congress last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he would offer support to the auto industry. In January, China's top planning agency, the National Development & Reform Commission, said it would relax curbs on the second-hand auto market, and provide subsidies for rural consumers as well as purchasers of electric vehicles.
-- By Benny Kung