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China March auto sales hit new high at 1.11 mln

By George Gao  From Gasgoo.comApril 09, 2009

Shanghai, April 9 ( China's auto sales hit a monthly record of 1.11 million vehicles in March, exceeding U.S. sales for the third straight month, as tax cuts and subsidies for small car purchases boosted the auto market demand, reported today, citing industry figures.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said that the country's vehicle sales in March grew 5% from a year earlier. Carmakers in China produced 1.1 million vehicles last month, up 5.55% year-on-year, according to the CAAM. The first-quarter sales and production totaled 2.68 million and 2.57 million, up 3.88% and 1.91%, respectively.

China has topped the U.S. in the first three months' auto sales and is bound to eventually overtake the U.S. as the world's largest auto market. Despite a slowdown late last year, China's market remains relatively resilient, thanks in part to aggressive government moves to promote sales of smaller, fuel efficient vehicles, especially in the countryside.

The association said sales were buoyed by government stimulus policies. On January 20, China halved the purchase tax on passenger cars to 5% for models with engine sizes of less than 1.6 liters.

Last month, China's sales of passenger vehicles, including minivans, totaled 772,469 units, up 22.4% from a year ago, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said. The figure was up 26.7% from February sales.

China is expected to sell 10.2 million vehicles in 2009, up 8.7% year on year, said the CAAM. Passenger vehicle sales may increase 10.2% year on year to 7.45 million units this year.

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