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Sales of Foreign Auto Giants Soar in China in 2006
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Foreign auto giants enjoyed booming sales in China last year while markets remained sluggish in the United States, Europe and Japan.


The world's second largest automaker, Toyota, said on Wednesday its sales on the Chinese mainland surged 68 percent year-on-year to 308,000 vehicles in 2006.


Toyota's market performance was certainly better in China than in any other country last year though global figures were still unavailable, said Yang Hongjian, public relations manager with Toyota China.


The world's largest manufacturer, General Motors, sold 876,700 vehicles on the mainland last year, up 31.8 percent over the previous year, raising its market share by 0.6 percentage points to 11.8 percent, larger than that of any other foreign producer.


General Motors China's president and managing director Kevin Wale has said his company would invest an annual average of one billion US dollars over the next three years to maintain double-digit growth in its market share.


With declining sales in North America, US automaker Ford has said its sales jumped 86.6 percent in China last year to a record 166,722 vehicles.


China would account for 50 percent of global market growth in coming years and was considered by Ford to be an important base for supply, research and development, said Cheng Meiwei, Ford China president and chief executive officer.


Sales doubled for Chang'an Ford Mazda Corporation, making the Chongqing-based joint venture one of the fastest growing automakers in China.


Sales of luxury brands under Ford -- including Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo -- surged 60 percent to a total of 10,914 vehicles.


German automakers also reported good news, with sales of Volkswagen AG up 24.3 percent to 711,000 vehicles and sales of its luxury brand Audi up 39 percent to a record 80,000.


Volkswagen has lost its 50-percent share of the Chinese market for sedans due to increased competition from multinational auto giants.


Meanwhile, BMW sold 36,357 cars in China last year, up 51.3 percent, while DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz division sold 21,20O, up 32 percent.


Almost all the multinational auto giants have set up joint ventures in China, in the scramble for a share in the booming market.


China overtook Japan to become the world's second largest market for new vehicles in 2006 after the United States, registering sales of 7.22 million vehicles, up 25.13 percent year-on-year.


In contrast, the European market for new vehicles rose only 0.7percent and the U.S. and Japanese markets were shrinking.


(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2007)


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