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Luxury Car Sales Slow Down in China

China’s luxury car sales suffered slowdown last year, as Rolls-Royce car sales tumbled 54 percent and Audi saw its first negative growth in 26 years.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said on Monday that 2015 car sales fell to 3,785 from the 2014 record high of 4,063, with China’s market tumbling the most, down 54 percent year onyear. It also marked the end of a five straight years of sales growth.

Audi suffered from a similar downturn. Chinese sales of Volkswagen’s flagship luxury divisiondropped 1.4 percent to 570,889, representing the first negative growth since Audi entered China 26 years ago.

Italian luxury car maker Maserati also saw a pause of its high sales growth in China last year. In November, Maserati said the company has stopped production at its plant in Italy for sixweeks, partly due to the slowdown in China and US.

However, luxury car makers still expect China to become their largest market in the future. Mirko Bordiga, president of Maserati China, said in an interview with The Paper that China’sluxury car market will maintain a stable sentiment this year, except for the sport utility vehiclesection, which will see a rise in 2016. Maserati has placed a big bet on the booming SUV market. China’s luxury SUV sales reached150,000 units last year, Bordiga said.

Bordiga added another reason they stopped production in Italy is to prepare for the launch ofa new SUV. Maserati will unveil its first SUV at the Beijing Auto Show in April, and it isexpected to enter the Chinese market at the end of June or early July, said Bordiga.

Auto sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, rose 4.7 percent year on year to 24.60 million in 2015, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed Tuesday.

The growth marks the slowest pace in three years, following the 6.9-percent rise in 2014 and13.9-percent gain in 2013.

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