0123 GMT February 23, 2020
Slowing vehicle sales will “severely undermine” the auto industry’s profitability and make companies with operational difficulties targets for takeovers, Qu Guochun, a deputy director at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a forum in Tianjin, China. Lu Weisheng, a deputy director at the National Development and Reform Commission, cited ‘severe structural problems’ within China’s auto industry and encouraged local carmakers to step up expansion overseas.
The assessments by China’s two main auto industry regulators followed the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers saying last week that it is lobbying the government to consider stimulus measures to revive demand. Its proposals include halving the 10 percent purchase tax and raising caps on the number of new vehicles that can be bought.
“To build a strong auto nation, we need the government’s help to boost demand,” Shi Jianhua, the deputy secretary general of the auto association, said at a briefing last week, without elaborating on how the government has responded to the lobbying. “Vehicle demand has a close correlation with economic growth and infrastructure investment.”
The China auto association is predicting sales to grow at the slowest pace in four years as the economy slows. Consumers in China also are putting off purchases as a summer stock-market rout saps discretionary spending. Dealers have responded by extending unprecedented discounts to reduce stockpiling inventory, raising concerns about profitability.
Changan Automobile Group and Dongfeng Motor Corp., two large state-owned carmakers, said at the forum in Tianjin that regulators should allow the market to weed out weaker players and avoid distorting demand by introducing short-term incentives.