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Auto Sales Growth Slows As Cost of Fuel Rises
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China's passenger car sales growth slowed to 5.8 percent in June from May's 24 percent high, as rising fuel prices deterred consumers.


Sales of passenger cars, multipurpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles rose to 396,400 units last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement yesterday.


Production expanded 15.9 percent since June last year to 425,900 units, it said.


China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, raised fuel prices on May 24 for the second time this year.


Retail prices for the most common grade of gasoline have risen by about 15 percent to 5.09 yuan (64 cents) per litre in Beijing, according to the Price Association of Beijing, a government-affiliated group.


"Chinese first-time car buyers are very sensitive to costs and rising petrol prices make them very concerned," said Song Bingshen, an analyst with China Securities Research Co in Beijing.


Better than average sales in June last year also led to the decline in growth this year.


Automakers sold 375,500 units in June 2005, more than the average monthly sales of 330,833.


Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 8 percent to 557,600 units last month and production expanded 15 percent to 573,700 units, according to the association.


General Motors Corp, Volkswagen AG, Chery Automobile Co and other automakers sold a total of 2.51 million passenger cars in the first half, 37 percent more than a year earlier, while car production rose 40 percent to 2.6 million units, according to the association.


Total vehicle sales rose 27 percent to 3.53 million units, while production grew 29 percent to 3.63 million units, it added.


SAIC Motor Co, FAW Group, Dongfeng Motor Corp, Chang'an Automobile Group, and Beijing Automotive Holdings Corp were the nation's top five automakers in terms of vehicles sold in the first half.


Sales by the 10 carmakers accounted for 84 percent of the nation's total.


The companies operate assembly ventures with foreign automakers including GM, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Hyundai.


Rising gasoline prices also weakened sales of sport-utility vehicles that use more energy than compact cars.


Total sales of sport-utility vehicles fell 15 percent in June to 14,800 units, according to the association.


Shanghai Wanfeng Auto, a privately owned sport-utility vehicle maker, has suspended production as low sales volume led to bankruptcy, the Oriental Morning Post reported on June 14.


(China Daily July 12, 2006)


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