China reported sluggish sales of automobiles in January amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, industry data showed Thursday.

The country sold a total of 1.94 million vehicles last month, down 18 percent year on year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

Meanwhile, vehicle output amounted to 1.78 million, declining 24.6 percent from the same period last year.

Sales and production of passenger vehicles posted a year-on-year decrease of 20.2 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively.

In January, new energy vehicle sales slumped 54.4 percent, while production dropped by 55.4 percent, said the CAAM.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has disrupted an estimated recovery of China’s auto market this year after a challenging 2019, the CAAM said.

The epidemic is expected to weigh on consumer demand, drag down sales as carmakers and auto parts suppliers suspended production, and depress exports due to restrictions from other countries, said the association.

As a result, auto sales in the first quarter will see a significant drop, but sales are expected to rebound as pent-up demand unleashes after the epidemic is under control, it said.

While the production halt risks disrupting the global supply chain, the impact will be relatively short-lived as China’s adequate capacity will soon catch up to make up for the losses, according to an analysis by Great Wall Securities. Enditem

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