The automotive industry in China is facing a growing inventory crisis as car sales continue to decline. According to the latest statistics from the China Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), the inventory alert index for passenger vehicles has risen to 58.2% in June 2024, up from 55.4% in the previous month. This indicates that dealerships are holding excessive inventory levels, which is putting significant pressure on their operations and financial health.

Slump in Car Sales

The slump in car sales in China is attributed to a combination of factors, including the economic slowdown, rising inflation, and heightened COVID-19 restrictions. In the first half of 2024, passenger car sales fell by 10.4% year-on-year to 10.4 million units. This decline has been particularly pronounced in recent months, with sales dropping by 15.4% in May and 17.2% in June.

Mounting Inventory Levels

The decline in car sales has led to a build-up of inventory at dealerships. CADA's data shows that the average inventory level for passenger vehicles stood at 58 days of supply at the end of June, well above the industry benchmark of 45 days. This excess inventory is tying up capital and reducing profitability for dealers.

Financial Strain on Dealerships

The inventory crisis is putting a severe strain on the financial health of dealerships. With fewer cars being sold, dealers are seeing their revenues decline while their costs remain high. This is leading to a surge in dealership closures, with CADA reporting that over 500 dealerships have shut down in the past six months.

Government Intervention

Recognizing the severity of the situation, the Chinese government has taken steps to intervene and support the automotive industry. In May, the State Council announced a series of measures aimed at boosting car sales, including tax cuts and subsidies for new energy vehicles. However, it remains to be seen whether these measures will be sufficient to reverse the downward trend in sales.

Analysts' Perspectives

Analysts are divided on the outlook for the Chinese car market. Some believe that the inventory crisis will continue for the remainder of 2024, while others are more optimistic about a recovery in the second half of the year. However, all analysts agree that the industry is facing significant challenges and that dealers will need to adapt their strategies to survive.

Potential Solutions

To mitigate the inventory crisis, experts recommend that dealerships focus on the following strategies:

  • Reduce Production: Coordinate with manufacturers to reduce production levels and align them with actual demand.
  • Optimize Inventory Management: Implement systems to improve inventory forecasting and allocation, reducing the risk of overstocking.
  • Clear Excess Inventory: Offer discounts and promotions to clear excess inventory and reduce holding costs.
  • Diversify Sales Channels: Explore alternative sales channels such as online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms to expand reach and reduce reliance on traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Embrace New Technologies: Utilize data analytics and digital marketing to gain insights into consumer behavior and tailor marketing efforts accordingly.


The automotive industry in China is facing a significant challenge due to the slump in car sales and the resulting inventory crisis. Dealerships are under severe financial strain, and the outlook for the remainder of 2024 remains uncertain. The industry must take immediate action to address the inventory issue and adapt to the changing market conditions to ensure its long-term sustainability.

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