China's machinery manufacturing industry can provide complete sets of large advanced equipment, including large gas turbines, large pump storage groups, and nuclear power sets, ultra-high voltage direct-current transmission and transformer equipment, complete sets of large metallurgical, fertilizer and petro-chemical equipment, urban light rail transport equipment, and new papermaking and textile machinery. In 2004, exports of machinery and transportation equipment (mainstay and leading performer in China's export trade since 1996) reached US$ 268.3 billion, 42.8 percent more than in 2003, a growth rate of 9 percentage points higher than that of exports overall.
In the 1990s, the automobile industry developed steadily as a key sector, output nearly quadrupling from 514,000 in 1990 to 2.07 million in 2000. In 2004, output and sales volume of automobiles each surpassed five million, of which 2.314 million being sedans, and 2.327 million were sold. Automobiles, the high-class consumer durable with the lowest rate of ownership, now show the fastest retail growth rate of any commodity in China.