imageEconomic Indicators6 hours ago (Feb 13, 2020 01:31AM ET)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Auto sales in China are expected to fell for a 19th consecutive month in January, with the number of new energy vehicles (NEVs) sold contracting for a seventh month in a row, data from the country’s biggest auto industry association showed on Thursday.

Total auto sales in the world’s biggest auto market are expected to fall 18% from the same month a year earlier, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said.

The industry is bracing for the impact of a coronavirus epidemic that has killed more than 1,100 people by Feb. 12.

Local governments began imposing travel curbs and warning residents to avoid public spaces in the last two weeks of January, and industry executives said the epidemic was likely to wreak havoc on auto sales and production in the first quarter.

Automakers need to get used to a new normal of “low speed growth” in China, CAAM said last month, as it predicts sales are likely to shrink 2% in 2020, the third consecutive year of contraction.

Industry sales fell 8.2% last year, pressured by new emission standards in a shrinking economy and trade tension with the United States.

China’s January auto sales expected to fall 18 percent year-on-year, 19th month of decline

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