China auto sales jump in February: industry group

Car sales in China reached 1.94 million units in February, up 22.37 percent compared to the same time last year

Automobile sales in China jumped more than 22 percent year-on-year in February, an industry group said Friday, in fresh evidence that a cut in purchase taxes was supporting demand in the world’s largest car market.

Sales reached 1.94 million units last month, up 22.37 percent compared to the same time last year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement.

The result provided fresh evidence of solid sales in the sector after authorities slashed a purchase tax in late 2015.

Auto sales surged nearly 14 percent in 2016, marking the fastest full-year growth in three years.

February's sales marked a drop from January of 23.03 percent, the CAAM said, blaming the Chinese New Year holiday that lasted for much of the first half of last month.

Originally set at 10 percent, China halved the tax rate for small-engine passenger cars in October 2015 to buoy sales.

However, the finance ministry announced last month that the tax would be increased to 7.5 percent beginning January 1 of this year and restored to the original rate of 10 percent next year.

The Chinese auto market is crucial to manufacturers worldwide, but February saw some foreign firms in the slow lane, with US auto giant General motors selling 246,730 vehicles, up only 0.4 percent year-on-year, while Ford’s sales rose 2 percent to 64,641 units.