SUVs leading growth in car sales
Sport utility vehicles continued to fuel growth in China's car market as sales jumped 33.6 per cent year on year to 156,500 last month - the biggest increase among all car types.
Car sales were up 12.46 per cent to 1.27 million, according to figures released by the official China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) yesterday, although for the first four months of the year growth in sales was just 1.89 per cent.
The association and major carmakers have forecast that this year's car sales will be up by about 8 per cent on last year, although a senior CAAM executive has cautioned that if the economy remained weak during the second half, growth in car sales could fall to five per cent.
While SUVs continued to lead growth, sedans also saw a year-on-year sales increase of 12.61 per cent last month, with sales of multi-purpose vehicles growing by a more moderate 7.3 per cent.
The China Passenger Car Association said in its latest report that the Beijing auto show last month helped lift sales in the final week of the month.
However, to meet their sales targets, many dealers also raised the rate of their discounts after a lukewarm response from buyers during March sales promotions, as high fuel prices and a slowing economy continued to hit consumption appetite.
Foreign and luxury brands all reported good sales. General Motors' joint venture in China sold a record 227,217 vehicles in April - an increase of 11.7 per cent over a year ago.
Ford Motor's China sales - backed by strong sales of its new Focus model, of which it has sold 9,400 since launching the car last month - surged 24 per cent to 54,881 vehicles.
Luxury-car maker BMW's sales jumped 31 per cent to 27,197, exceeding its sales growth in the United States and in its home market, Germany.
But while car sales continued to prosper, the market for commercial vehicles remained bleak.
Production of commercial vehicles last month was down 19.4 per cent year on year, to 342,400, while retail sales dropped 15 per cent to 348,400.
The persistent poor performance of commercial vehicles dragged total vehicle sales down by 1.3 per cent, to 6.42 million units for the first four months of this year.
Overall growth in all vehicle sales has now slowed from 35 per cent in 2010 to just 2 per cent for the first quarter of this year.
Car sales grew by just 1.25 per cent year on year during the first three months of this year, down from 33 per cent in 2010.
The number of cars sold last month, an increase of 12 per cent year on year