PARIS, Sept 2: Foreign carmakers that raced into China to profit from what has become the world's biggest automobile market by volume have no intention of backing out despite slowing sales as the Chinese economy shifts down.
While maintaining their upbeat view of the market's potential in the medium-term, auto manufacturers have had to make some adjustments.
They have lowered their forecasts for sales growth in 2015 and some have expressed concern about a looming price war, and the shares of the industry's giants have been getting hammered on world markets.
Car sales, a traditional barometer of the economic climate, advanced in China by nearly 14 percent in 2013 and 6.9 percent in 2014.
This year the forecast is gloomy with analysts predicting a sales increase of around 3.0 percent as China's economic growth has slowed from 7.4 percent last year.
Economists put China's first-half growth rate at around 6.3 percent, lower than the official 7.0 percent, according to a recent survey by Bloomberg News.
"I don't think we will see again the growth rates that we saw in the past," said Yann Lacroix, an expert on the automobile sector at insurer Euler Hermes.
The world's top carmakers all profited in the Chinese boom years. In 2014 Volkswagen sold 36 percent of its global production in China, General Motors 35 percent, PSA Peugeot Citroen 25 percent, BMW 20 percent and Mercedes-maker Daimler 16 percent.
But the current slowdown "does not affect the outlook for the Chinese market on the 2020 horizon, which remains excellent", said Flavien Neuvy, auto market analyst for Cetelem.
He pointed to the sustained expansion of the middle class in a country where many households are not yet car owners.
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