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Vehicle sales in China rose by 4.3% in 2012

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales of passenger and commercial vehicles in China reached 19.3 million units last year, up from 18.5 million units the year before. The 4.3% year-on-year increase in sales was short of the 8% expected by industry officials because of the slow domestic economic growth, anti-congestion measures taken by large cities and a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, which weakened sales of Japanese brands.
 
Total passenger car sales in China, excluding buses and heavy trucks, grew by 7% to 15.5 million units last year, while U.S. car sales rose 13% to 14.5 million units, their best since 2007. China passed the U.S. as the biggest car market by number of new vehicles sold in 2009.
 
Although the over-all market has shown signs of recovery, inventory levels are still dropping. Nevertheless, analysts expect that increase in car sales will be a modest single-digit percentage this year. One major reason is the potential curb on sales to ease traffic and improve air quality. However, foreign car manufacturers contend that “China remains a highly attractive market due to its long-term growth potential. It is no surprise that auto makers are playing some big bets on China, and doing so ahead of other markets,” said Andrew Thomson, head of KPMG’s Asia Pacific automotive consulting firm. (January 11, 2013)