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Car sales up nearly 18% in Jan.-April period
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Passenger car sales rose 17.84 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2008, despite the effect of unusually severe winter weather, an industry group said on Friday.

According to the semi-official China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales reached 2.46 million cars, including 1.81 million sedans, 75,500 mini-vans and 141,300 sport-utility vehicles.

Sales in April alone totaled 604,900 cars, up 10.83 percent from a year earlier but down 13.65 percent from March.

The figure for March was unusually large, representing the biggest year-on-year rise in seven months, as sales recovered from the extreme weather.

Volkswagen AG's two Chinese ventures -- FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen -- continued to top the sales list last month, as well as in the first four months.

Shanghai GM, the Detroit-based car maker's venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., sold the third-largest number of cars.

Domestic auto producers sold 463,100 sedans in the first four months, taking up a 25.46-percent share of total sedan sales.

Passenger car sales accounted for more than 70 percent of China's total auto sales.

Auto sales in China are expected to exceed 10 million units this year, which would represent full-year sales growth of 14 percent, CAAM said.

China, the world's second-largest car market, produced 8.88 million automobiles last year, of which 8.79 million were sold.

Auto sales have maintained double-digit growth since the beginning of the year, in contrast to weakening sales in much of the world as a result of the unfolding global credit crisis and soaring energy prices.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2008)

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