China leads global auto industry recovery from virus with October sales rising 12.5%

FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured cars are seen at a port in Dalian, Liaoning province, China April 10, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Vehicle sales in China rose 12.5% in October from the same month a year earlier, the seventh straight monthly rise as the world’s biggest vehicle market leads the global industry in recovering from lows hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global automakers including Toyota 7203.T and Honda 7267.T have forecast higher profits as their sales surged in China. The country's overall economic recovery has also accelerated, expanding by 4.9% in the July-September quarter, compared with 3.2% in the previous three months.

Sales reached 2.57 million vehicles last month, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.

This time of year, known as “Golden September, Silver October”, is typically a high point in sales for the industry, a time when consumers make purchases after staying away from showrooms during the stifling summer months.

Passenger vehicle sales rose 9%, with some automakers including Toyota booking double-digit growth. For commercial vehicles, which constitute around a quarter of the overall market, sales surged 30%, driven by government investment in infrastructure and as buyers upgraded to comply with tougher emissions rules.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) surged 105% to 160,000, their fourth consecutive month of gain. NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in petrol-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

NEV makers such as homegrown Nio Inc NIO.N and Xpeng Inc XPEV.N as well as foreign firms such as U.S. leader Tesla Inc TSLA.O are expanding manufacturing capacity in China where the government has aggressively promoted greener vehicles to reduce air pollution.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Neil Fullick and Muralikumar Anantharaman