Sales up 13 per cent in world's biggest auto market: China
A cleaner wipes the floor where Mercedes Benz C260 is displayed at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (AUTO Shanghai) media day in Shanghai, China Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Published Thursday, May 9, 2013 9:00AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 9, 2013 9:01AM EDT
BEIJING -- China's auto sales rose 13 per cent in April despite concern about a weak economic recovery and Japanese brands suffered less severe declines, an industry group reported Thursday.
Customers in the world's biggest auto market bought 1.4 million cars, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. It said total auto sales showed "clear improvement" at 1.8 million vehicles but gave no details.
Global automakers are looking to China to drive revenues but competition is increasing after sales growth that spiked to 45 per cent in 2009 declined to more sustainable rates.
"The data are a bit better than I expected but within a normal range. Demand in China is huge, so there is no problem with consuming capacity," said Jia Xinguang, an auto analyst in Beijing.
The sales gains came despite a decline in Chinese economic growth to 7.7 per cent in the first three months of the year from 7.9 per cent the previous quarter. Analysts say the recovery from the country's deepest slowdown since the 2008 global crisis is being shored up by state-led investment and bank lending.
Japanese automakers that have been hurt by tensions over a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo suffered a 4.9 per cent decline in overall sales from a year earlier. Still, that was an improvement over the previous month's 17.8 per cent decline.
General Motors Co. reported earlier that April sales of GM-brand autos by the company and its Chinese partners rose 15.3 per cent from a year earlier to 261,870 vehicles.
GM said this week its main Chinese joint venture, Shanghai GM, received government permission to build an 8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) factory to build Cadillacs. The company has said it will make a priority of increasing Cadillac's share of China's fast-growing luxury car market.
Japan's Nissan Motor Co. said its April sales rose 2.7 per cent to 102,800 vehicles, breaking a series of monthly declines. However, Nissan said sales for the first four months of the year were down 11 per cent from the same period last year.
Ford Motor Co. said sales of Ford-brand vehicles by the company and its Chinese partners rose 37 per cent over a year earlier to 75,331 vehicles. It said year-to-date sales were up 49 per cent at 261,927 vehicles.
AP researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed.