China imported 139,900 sedans in 2007, up 25.13 percent over the previous year, with the largest share of 46 percent, or 63,800 units, coming from Germany, China Customs figures revealed.
The sedan imports worth 5.01 billion U.S. dollars, up 25.41 percent from the previous year, took up 45 percent of China's total automobile imports which has slightly overshot the previous year's total to stand around 310,889 units.
China Trading Center for Automobile Import predicted late January that tariff reduction since July 1 had given a stimulus to China's consumption of overseas made automobiles, which could reach 300,000 in 2007.
China customs figures showed about 79 percent of the imports were vehicles with an engine size of or larger than 2.5 liters.
Japan exported 29,700 sedans to China, the second largest total, while the United States ranked third with 18,000 units.
China's sedan exports, by contrast, more than doubled year-on-year to 188,600 units in 2007.
Chery, the flag-bearer of Chinese brands, saw a 132-percent surge in exports in 2007, to 119,800 units. The carmaker, which has accelerated its expansion overseas in recent years, expected to export 180,000 units this year.
Chang'an Automotive Group, China's fourth largest automaker, sold more than 40,000 cars overseas last year, against 21,700 in 2006.
China, the world's third largest vehicle producer, after Japan and United States, found its auto output grow 22.9 percent to 9.04 million units last year, according to figures with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner.
The NDRC deputy economic performance department director Zhu Hongren said, since quantity was not a problem anymore, auto producers should increase their focus on quality.
In 2006, China overtook Japan to become the world's second largest car market next only to the United States, with sales of 7.2 million units, up 25.13 percent year-on-year.
Compared with their international counterparts, China's auto makers are still small in terms of production scale and behind in technology. In addition, the country's auto boom has created growing problems, such as increasing traffic jams and pollution.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)