China car sales soar

Car sales in China soared by 37% over the last year, figures out today reveal.

Overall vehicle sales rose by a quarter in April from the year before to a record monthly high of 1.15 million. Around 831,000 of them were passenger cars.

After slowing late last year as the impact from the global financial crisis deepened, China’s car sales have risen for five straight months. In March, vehicle sales hit a monthly record high of 1.11 million units.

A large share of sales in April were of small cars and crossover vehicles promoted by tax cuts and other policies favouring vehicles with engine displacement of 1.6 litres or less, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

China bypassed Japan to become the world’s second biggest market for new vehicles in 2006. With its 1.3 billion population, it was also bound to overtake the US, and the sharp downturn in American sales has accelerated that trend.

Vehicle sales in China rose 9.4% in January-April over the year before to 3.83 million. Sales in the US totalled three million.

Current trends make it likely that China will meet its target for sales of 10 million vehicles in 2009.

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