Beijing: China has for the first time overtaken the US as the world’s largest auto market with sales of locally-made vehicles surging 17.7% to 6.1 million units in the first six months this year.
Sales of China’s domestically made automobiles topped 1.14 million units in June, up 36.5% over the figure a year earlier, the fourth month in a row surpassing the 1.1 million units mark, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Caam) said.
China’s vehicle sales in June rose to 1.14 million, the second-highest month to date after April’s 1.15 million units, out of which passenger car sales hit a monthly record of 872,900 units, it said.
Total auto sales for the first half of the year (January-June) rose to 6.1 million, up 17.7% from a year earlier, out-pacing the US market, where passenger car sales in the same period plunged to 4.8 million amid the economic slowdown.
China manufactured 15.2% more automobiles in the first half of the year as compared to 2008, an increase Caam said is due to a government stimulus package to boost domestic spending.
“The good performance by the automobile industry in the first half of this year is mainly because of the efficient measures China had put in place to counter the financial crisis, and the different stimulus policies targeting the automobile industry,” Caam said in its report.
China unveiled a $585 billion stimulus package last November and 10 specific industry stimulus plans for autos, iron and steel, petrochemicals and other sectors this year to shore up the Chinese economy, Xinhua news agency noted.
The association also said that while exports of automobiles remained in decline, it was “cautiously optimistic” about Chinese-made auto sales on the domestic market in the second half of 2009.
It forecast that sales will exceed 11 million vehicles for the whole year, topping its earlier forecast of 10.2 million vehicles.