China's auto imports reached 147,000 units -- worth a total of US$4.84 billion -- in the first eight months of this year, up 71.8 percent year on year in value terms.
Statistics from China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) show that the major sources of vehicle imports are the European Union, South Korea and the United States. Together they account for 88.2 percent of China's imports.
Luxury cars and cross-country vehicles - 3.0 litre or bigger - led the figures. In the eight month period, 49,000 top line vehicles were imported, up 110 percent year on year.
Private mine owners, real estate developers and owners of private entertainment businesses were the main buyers of cross-country vehicles, according to the GAC.
High consumption tax, high oil prices and a probable fuel oil tax would not affect the consumption patterns of these high-income customers, said Jia Xinguang, a well-known auto industry analyst.
China lowered import tariffs on cars, cross-country vehicles and mini-buses from 28 percent to 25 percent on July 1.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)