Sales of cars on the mainland continued to grow at a slow and steady single-digit pace last month, according to preliminary figures.
Carmakers shipped 1.09 million units of sedans, minivans, SUVs and microvans last month, up 6.9 per cent from a year earlier, unofficial data released yesterday by the Shanghai-based China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) shows.
'Wholesales last month were not bad, and totalled nearly 300,000 units [27 per cent of the total] in the last three days of the month,' association secretary general Rao Da wrote in his sohu.com blog.
Official figures are typically published a few days later by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), but the preliminary CPCA data have had an average margin of error of just 0.2 per cent over the past 12 months.
July and August are typically slow months, but sales stayed above the 1 million unit mark for the sixth month in a row. Car shipments typically pick up from September in advance of the October 1 'golden week' holiday, and see strong growth on year-end buying in November and December.
In the first eight months of the year, mainland passenger car shipments from manufacturers to dealers have risen 6.4 per cent to 9.2 million, up from 8.7 million during the same period a year earlier.
That steady, if unremarkable, growth in the world's biggest car market represents a sharp slowdown from the 30 to 40 per cent increases seen during the stimulus-driven sales boom of 2009-10. Weak demand has prevailed since the January 1 expiry of tax rebates and other government incentives.
By segment, the biggest laggard among passenger cars continues to be microvans, sales of which fell 9.2 per cent last month from a year ago.
Known in Putonghua as mianbaoche, or bread vans, for their boxy shape, the affordable vehicles are popular in the countryside and among small companies.
Sedan sales rose 8.7 per cent, while sales of MPVs - or minivan-like car - were up 21.1 per cent and shipments of SUVs climbed 12.9 per cent, according to the CPCA figures.
Passenger car sales trends in the year to date have tended to favour foreign-branded cars made by joint ventures, while the sales of home-grown carmaker's products, especially at the low end, have struggled.
General Motors, the mainland's biggest foreign carmaker by sales volume, yesterday reported a 13.4 per cent rise in August shipments to 205,885 units.
Mainland sales of passenger cars at Shanghai GM, which makes Buicks and Chevrolets, rose 21.7 per cent to 98,674 units. Sales at its commercial vehicle unit, SAIC-GM-Wuling, rebounded with the launch of the China-only Baojun brand of passenger cars, climbing 8.2 per cent from a year ago to 102,959 units.