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New York Markets After Hours

March 12, 2020, 3:22 a.m. EDT

Coronavirus crushes China car sales

By MarketWatch

BEIJING--Auto sales in China collapsed in February, as the coronavirus epidemic shut factories and dealerships and forced consumers to stay home.

Sales were down 79% from a year earlier, with just 310,000 vehicles sold nationally, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday.

"The auto consumption was stagnant and the demand was seriously suppressed, which will have a significant impact on the auto market in the first half of the year," said Chen Shihua, the deputy secretary-general of the association.

China's auto market, the world's biggest by number of vehicles sold, was already coming off two straight years of sales declines. Among the makers reporting severe February declines from a year earlier were SAIC Motor Corp., the country's largest car manufacturer, down 87%; Great Wall Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., both 85%; Nissan Motor Co., 80%; Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., 75%; and Toyota Motor Corp., 70%.

Raffaele Huang and Trefor Moss

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