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China car sales seen 20% up in November as makers eye sales goals

China’s car sales are expected to jump by more than 20% in November, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Wednesday, citing increased confidence among carmakers striving to deliver annual sales goals in the world’s top auto market.

Car sales totalled 2.05 million units in October, up 9.9% from a year earlier, extending gains to a third month. Sales in the first 10 months of 2023 rose 3% year-on-year to 17.46 million units.

The October figures came on the back of a 2.2% increase in August and a 4.7% rise in September.

New energy vehicle (NEV) sales rose by 37.5% in October year-on-year, accounting for 37.4% of total car sales. NEV sales growth picked up from a 22.1% increase in September, amid signs that an economic recovery was gaining traction.

Demand for electric vehicles, however, has weakened in China as consumers favour more economical plug-in hybrids, helping carmakers such as Li Auto (2015.HK) and BYD (002594.SZ) gain market share.

BYD sold 301,095 passenger cars, including its Dynasty and Ocean series and Denza brand in October, up 38.4% year-on-year, with more than 10% exported, according to the company.

It offered limited-time discounts for November on some of its best-selling models as the company strives to meet its annual sales target of 3 million units. BYD had sold year-to-date 2.38 million new energy vehicles of both pure electric and plug-in hybrids.

U.S. EV giant Tesla (TSLA.O), in comparison with its Chinese rivals, saw lower sales, with October deliveries of China-made EVs down 2.6% from a month earlier and just 0.6% higher year-on- year.

Tesla exported 43,489 China-made EVs last month, up 42.3% from 30,566 in September, CPCA data showed, when the passenger vehicle export growth cooled slightly to 49% from 50% in September.

A price war started by Tesla at the beginning of the year is dragging down profitability of companies that only make EVs, and these firms have stepped up efforts to prune costs and build partnerships to survive.

“The auto sector has already been in a very miserable state, with profit margins at absolutely historical lows of merely 4.5% in September,” CPCA Secretary General Cui Dongshu said, referring only to figures for September.

Leapmotor (9863.HK) just struck a deal with European legacy conglomerate Stellantis (STLAM.MI) to gain a European foothold.

Nio (9866.HK) plans to trim its workforce by 10% this month as it tries to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the face of growing competition, the Chinese EV upstart said on Friday.

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