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China March auto sales hit record high

AFP, Thursday 11 Apr 2013
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China's auto sales rose more than 10 percent year-on-year in March to a record monthly high of 2.04 million vehicles, an industry group said Thursday, citing strong demand for passenger cars.

In the first quarter, automakers sold 5.42 million vehicles in the world's largest car market, up 13.2 percent year-on-year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement.

"Auto production and sales entered the traditional peak season in March," the group said.

"Sales of passenger vehicles showed relatively fast growth, which was the major driving force for overall growth in auto sales from January to March."

Sales of passenger cars alone jumped 17.2 percent from a year earlier to 4.42 million units in the first quarter, the group said. In March alone, sales rose 13.3 percent year-on-year to 1.59 million units.

Last year, China's overall auto sales rose only 4.3 percent year-on-year to 19.31 million units, hurt by limits on numbers imposed by some cities to ease traffic congestion and cut pollution.

The group said sales of Japanese brand passenger cars dropped 16 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, hurt by the lingering impact of a territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo that triggered anti-Japanese protests.

But sales of other foreign manufacturers all rose, with German, South Korean and French brands each surging more than 30 percent in the first three months of the year, it said.

Chinese-brand passenger car sales rose 18.3 percent year-on-year to 1.91 million units for the three-month period.

Global management consulting firm McKinsey last year predicted China's passenger car market will grow an average eight percent annually to 2020, when sales will reach 22 million.

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