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April 9, 2009

China buying more cars than USA

CARS - New preliminary figures show auto sales in China reached about 1.03 million in March, exceeding United States sales for the third month in a row. Chinese auto sales exceeded US sales in January for the first time in history, and again in February.

Data from 14 major auto makers, accounting for roughly 90% of total auto sales, totaled 1.026 million. Full industry data is due to be released in coming days when the smaller automakers are added up. The results could push March auto sales in China, the world's second-largest auto market, to a monthly record.

Last year, China's industry wide auto sales in March totaled 1.06 million.

In contrast Americans bought 857,735 new vehicles in March, down 37% from the 1.36 million sold in March 2008.

A 25% jump in U.S. sales in February raised hopes that the worst may be over for an industry battered by the American recession and financial catastrophe, but that 25% increase still wasn't enough to compete with China's booming economy and a growing Chinese middle-class hungry for cars (which also saw a 25% increase in February compared to 2008).

Due to sheer population China is bound to eventually overtake the U.S. as the world's largest auto market. The past three months might be a sign that China is set to become the world leader sooner than expected.

China's auto sales for the full year are forecast to exceed 10 million units for the first time ever. The USA is expecting to sell less than 9 million.

To help spur auto sales and economic development, the Chinese government halved taxes on purchases of small autos and is spending 5 billion yuan (about $730 million) on subsidies for purchases of light trucks and minivans in the countryside, where a chunk of China's 1.3 billion people live.

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