|China sees higher auto sales amid weak economy in April
China's auto sales surged 13.4 percent year-on-year in April, an industry group said Thursday, despite weakness in the world's second largest economy.
A total of 1.84 million vehicles were sold last month in China, the largest auto market in the world, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement, AFP reports.
"Auto production and sales showed steady growth in April and the overall market performance was relatively good,'' the group said.
In the first four months of 2013 vehicle sales reached 7.27 million units, up 13.2 percent year-on-year, it said.
Passenger car sales alone rose 16.2 percent from a year earlier to 5.86 million vehicles in the January-April period, the group said.
For April alone, passenger car sales grew 13 percent year-on-year to 1.44 million vehicles, helped by strong demand for sport utility vehicles, it added.
China's economic growth slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter, slowing from 7.9 percent in the last three months of 2012, fuelling fears its economic rebound is faltering.
China's annual auto sales rose only 4.3 percent year-on-year to 19.31 million units in 2012, hit by limits on numbers imposed by some cities to ease traffic congestion and tackle pollution.
A territorial spat between Beijing and Tokyo that triggered anti-Japanese protests last year has hurt sales of Japanese vehicles, but other foreign brands have rushed to gain market share.
Sales of Japanese brand passenger cars dropped 12.9 percent year-on-year in the first four months, the industry group said Thursday.
Global management consulting firm McKinsey last year predicted China's passenger car market will grow an average eight percent annually to 2020, when sales will reach 22 million.