Car sales declined 42% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year, according to data released late last week by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). While that is largely because of a whopping 79% plunge in February — when the country of 1.4 billion people recorded just 310,000 sales — the market remains very weak. Only 1.43 million vehicles were sold in China last month, a 43% decline over March 2019.
The auto industry plays a crucial role in China’s economy. More than 40 million people in the country rely on the sector for jobs, either directly or indirectly. The industry generates more than $1 trillion in revenue each year, roughly 10% of China’s manufacturing output.