(Bloomberg) -- China pledged to maintain efforts to boost car sales and support the nation’s economy after the automobile industry took a particularly hard hit during recent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

A briefing held by the State Council Information Office on Thursday underscored the importance of promoting sales of new-energy vehicles and ensuring the supply of auto chips and related raw materials with a relatively stable price. Efforts are also underway to expedite a study about extending purchase tax exemptions for electric cars, Guo Shougang, an official with the industry ministry, said.

More detailed policies on product safety and the establishment of additional charging infrastructure will be released in due course, Guo added.

China in May cut the purchase tax levied on some low-emission passenger vehicles by half, building on previously announced measures to support businesses and consumer spending. Several local governments and automakers have since pitched in with subsidies and incentives to entice buyers.

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The sweeteners seem to be working with electric-car sales set to hit a record high of almost 500,000 vehicles last month. The jump in EV purchases also comes as production disruptions and supply chain snarls ease, alleviating shortages. The China Passenger Car Association, which releases June data on Friday, has forecast NEV sales will reach 5.5 million this year.

Authorities on Thursday also pledged to look at measures to facilitate the trade and circulation of used cars. Overall car ownership levels are still low in China versus developed markets like the US and Australia and the nation does not have a vibrant second-hand market place.

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Encouraging car sales in China’s vast rural areas was another area officials said would be examined.

Car consumption may see “relatively fast” growth as policies bolstering the sector take effect, Vice Commerce Minister Sheng Qiuping said. 

“These measures are very practical and target breaking down some institutional barriers that restrain the development of the automotive industry in the long run,” he said.

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