Chinese car sales surged 90% year on year in August and this growth in car sales seems likely to take China to the top position as the world’s biggest car market in 2009, ahead of the US. Passenger car sales in the US will remain higher than China’s, but in terms of total light vehicles – including mini commercial vehicles used partly as passenger cars in China – the Asian country looks set to pull ahead of the US for the first time this year.
After a brief slump in sales in the third quarter of 2008, Chinese car sales have gone from strength to strength, repeatedly surprising Chinese and foreign carmakers manufacturing in the country and leaving dealerships short of vehicles to sell to increasingly large numbers of customers.
Passenger car sales in August rose to 858,300, compared with 451,300 vehicles sold a year earlier.
Yale Zhang of CSM Auto, the motor consultancy in Shanghai, said full-year passenger car sales could reach 7.3m, up 30% year on year. He notes that Beijing kickstarted a sales boom in inland provinces by introducing tax breaks and subsidies in January. But the past quarter – traditionally the low season for Chinese motor sales – have seen a more broad-based recovery in consumer confidence that has boosted sales in eastern provinces.
The Financial Times reports the booming Chinese car market has been good news for carmakers such as General Motors, which recently forecast sales of its Chinese joint ventures could rise by 40% this year after more than doubling year on year in August.