Chinese auto sales grew at the slowest rate in recent years in 2017, signaling an end to the boom years in the world's largest, but also fast-maturing, auto market.
Sales totaled 28.88 million vehicles last year, up 3% from 2016, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday.
Passenger-car sales increased by 1.4% to 24.72 million, sharply slower than the 15% rise in 2016, though electric-vehicle sales--which the Chinese government is heavily promoting--were up 53% at 777,000.
Commercial-vehicle sales increased 14% to 4.16 million.
After a decade of breakneck growth, China constitutes 30% of global auto sales, up from roughly 10% in 2007. However, market saturation in big cities including Beijing and Shanghai, and other factors such as fast-rising used-car sales, spell only marginal growth from now on, most analysts said.
An increase in China's auto sales tax to 7.5% from 5% at the start of 2017 weighed on sales in the early part of the year, and a further increase to 10% this month is likely to have the same effect in the first quarter of 2018. Bernstein Research forecasts 2.5% market growth in 2018.
However, the sales tax on EVs will continue to be waived through 2020, the Chinese finance ministry said in December, as the government continues to promote EV sales. Of the EVs sold in China last year, 578,000 were passenger cars, whose sales rose 72%.
--Lin Zhu in Beijing contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 11, 2018 02:22 ET (07:22 GMT)