Chinese auto sales increased at the quickest rate this year in June, putting the country on course to top the US as the world’s largest auto market, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing figures released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales rose 36.5% year-on-year in June to 1.4 million units, the fourth month in a row that volumes have topped 1.1 million units. Meanwhile, US car and light truck sales dropped 28% year-on-year to 860,000. New car and truck sales in China are expected to top 11 million units in 2009 – up 17.3% on the previous year – with US sales likely to come in at just 9.69 million units. The jump in Chinese auto sales is attributed in a large part to government subsidies and tax breaks on the purchase of smaller vehicles. The 38% increase in first-half sales posted by General Motors was largely due to the strong performance of its joint venture that manufactures small commercial vehicles. However, demand for luxury car brands is also improving with BMW seeing sales growth of 46% in June.
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