BEIJING, April 10 -- China's auto sales are expected to grow by 25 percent this year, as the market continued its robust growth trend in the first quarter, an official from the China Passenger Car Association said on Friday.
March sales of passenger vehicles, including cars, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), sports-utility vehicles (SUVs) and minivans, jumped 63 percent from a year ago and 34 percent from February.
First-quarter sales jumped 76 percent to 3.52 million units, as government incentive policies boosted domestic demand, the association said.
"The sales figures last month far surpassed our expectations. We optimistically forecast that total auto sales will grow 25 percent to hit 17 million units this year," said Rao Da, secretary-general of the association.
"As many new models will be launched during the upcoming Beijing auto show which starts on April 23, passenger car sales will continue to grow this month, by at least 26 percent," said Rao.
China replaced the US as the world's No 1 automobile market last year, supported by government stimulus policies including tax cuts for smaller cars and subsidies to vehicle buyers in rural areas.
The prolonged and extended measures this year continued to benefit both international and domestic automakers, making China the automobile market with the most potential over at least the next 10 years with estimated annual growth of over 10 percent.
US company General Motors reported a 68 percent year-on-year sales increase in March. Its sales in China have surpassed those in its home country for the third consecutive month this year.
Japanese automaker Toyota, which was troubled recently by safety issues, experienced a 33 percent year-on-year growth in March, delivering 61,200 vehicles in China.
China's biggest automaker SAIC said that the booming domestic auto sales boosted its first-quarter net profit which more than quadrupled to 627 million yuan from a year ago, while the Chinese government's support for smaller cars helped Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co become China's fourth biggest carmaker last month.
Luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz also reported a 112 percent increase in first quarter sales from last year, while its rival BMW doubled its sales and Audi grew 77 percent over the same period.
(Source: China Daily)