China’s auto sales soared 26.3 percent in August over a year earlier, an industry group reported Friday, driven by demand for smaller cars and the impending end of a sales tax cut.
Drivers bought 1.8 million cars, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 24.2 percent to 2.1 million units. Demand in the world’s biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold cratered last year but rebounded after Beijing cut sales taxes. That cut is due to expire at the end of this year, which has prompted a rush to buy. Analysts expect sales growth to decelerate to mid-single digits once the tax is restored.
Sales of vehicles with engine sizes below 1.6 liters soared 40.7 percent, according to CAAM. For the eight months through August, total passenger vehicle sales rose 12.8 percent to 14.4 million. The surge in demand for smaller cars and SUVs has helped China’s fledgling domestic auto brands including Chery, Geely and Great Wall claw back market share they lost to bigger global rivals.
Foreign brands including Volkswagen and General Motors are responding by rolling out smaller, lower-priced models. Sales by Chinese brands outpaced the overall market in August, rising 30.1 percent to 730,000. Market share for Chinese automakers rose by 1.2 percent points from the same time last year to 40.7 percent. General Motors Co. said sales by the company and its Chinese manufacturing partners rose 18 percent to 293,537.
Nissan Motor Co., the biggest-selling Japanese brand in China, said sales rose 5.9 percent to 805,500.