By William Boston

 

BERLIN--As global auto markets reel from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, German luxury car maker BMW AG said Thursday that the recovery of demand in China provided some cause for hope, while Europe and the U.S. are still in decline.

"There is at least a glimmer of hope coming from China," BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told shareholders during a virtual annual general meeting on Thursday.

BMW sales plunged 88% in China in February, as the country locked down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But as the economy began opening in March, and auto makers opened their dealerships, customers have begun buying new cars again.

"In April, we already delivered nearly 14% more vehicles to customers than in April 2019. We know from our Chinese customers that consumption there will quickly bounce back, thanks to pent-up demand," Mr. Zipse said.

In the broader Chinese market, passenger-car sales were still down 1.5% in April compared to a year earlier, after falling around 80% in February, according to China's automotive manufacturers' association.

Mr. Zipse said the rebound in China was "only of limited use as a blueprint for other markets" such as Europe and the U.S., where car ownership is more widespread than in China, limiting demand.

"Demand for cars in countries like Spain, Italy and the U.K. will probably be very slow to recover," he said. "The same applies to the U.S."

 

Write to William Boston at William.Boston@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2020 05:52 ET (09:52 GMT)

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