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Auto sales keep roaring

China, the second-largest auto market in the world, continues to see an upswing in auto sales and production this year, with both sales and production reporting more than 20 percent growth in the first four months, according to an industry association.
Automakers produced over three million automobiles in China from January to April, of which 2,934,000 units were sold, a year-on-year growth of 21.36 and 21.46 percent respectively, as shown in statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

In the first four months, over 2.1 million passenger cars, including sedans, sport utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and minibuses, were manufactured, and over two million units were sold.

In April, China-made autos topped 815,200 units and sales hit 808,700, an increase of 18.48 and 19.78 percent respectively, compared to the same period last year. Passenger car production climbed 12.29 percent year-on-year to 544,600, while sales soared 15.98 percent to 545,800.

The top three automakers in terms of sales in the same period were Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), First Automotive Works Corp (FAW) and Dongfeng Motor Corp. In April, FAW topped sales, followed by SAIC and Dongfeng.

Domestic-owned brands were led by Chery, and Geely had a stronger presence than foreign brands this year. In the first four months of this year, sales of domestic autos reached 449,700 units, accounting for 29.31 percent of all passenger vehicles sold in China and ranking number one, up from second place last year.

In April, 116,200 domestic autos were sold, making up 28.22 percent of total car sales. China-made cars were trailed by Japanese, German and South Korean brands, with a market share of 26.88, 20.44 and 14.07 percents respectively.

Analysts said the growth in the auto sector in the first four months was mainly due to new model releases and price cut incentives by automakers.

Apart from the boom in the domestic market, automakers are penetrating further into the overseas market.

China exported 99,800 vehicles in the first quarter of this year, up 5.32 percent from the same period of last year, according to figures from the General Administration of Customs. The export of sedans soared up 49 percent from last year to 25,000 units.

In the first quarter of this year, China imported 59,100 vehicles, up 16.72 percent from the same period last year, according to the auto association. Among them, 28,000 were sedans, an increase of 30.93 percent.

China's top 16 auto groups reported a 70 percent increase in first-quarter profits boosted by brisk sales.

Post-tax profits totaled 12.8 billion yuan in the first three months of 2007, up 69.9 percent from a year ago, according to CAAM figures. SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, the biggest manufacturer by sales, posted a profit growth of 71.9 percent, while profits from FAW, the number two domestic carmarker, increased by one-third.
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