China's auto sales up 11 per cent in August as economic recovery gains strength

BEIJING, China - China's auto sales accelerated in August as an economic recovery gained strength, an industry group reported Tuesday.

Customers in the world's biggest auto market bought 1.35 million automobiles, according to the China Association of Auto Manufacturers. Sales growth accelerated to 11 per cent from July's 10.5 per cent.

The growth comes as other improved factory output and indicators suggest China's economy is rebounding after growth fell to a two-decade low of 7.5 per cent in the quarter ending in June.

"The data are pretty good," said Zhang Xin, an auto industry analyst for Guotai Jun'an Securities in Beijing.

Global automakers are looking to China to drive sales growth. Even after a steep decline from 2009's explosive 45 per cent expansion, Chinese growth still is well above anemic U.S. and European rates.

Chinese buyers have been motivated by price cuts at many dealers and rumours some cities will tighten controls on new vehicle ownership to curb traffic and smog, Zhang said.

The Beijing city government said last week it was considering fighting congestion by charging drivers to enter the Chinese capital's central district. Other cities have imposed quotas on new vehicle registrations.

Total Chinese vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 10.3 per cent over August last year to 1.65 million units.

General Motors Co. said earlier that August sales of GM-brand vehicles by the company and its Chinese partners rose 11.2 per cent to 245,799.

Also in August, Japanese automakers extended their recovery from a slump last year when tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over disputed islands in the East China Sea kept buyers away from showrooms.

Japan's Nissan Motor Co. said sales gained 1 per cent over last August to 86,000 units. That compared with a 6.3 per cent decline for the first eight months of the year.

Toyota Motor Co. said sales nearly doubled, rising 95.8 per cent to 72,100 units.

Germany's BMW AG said sales in China rose 34.6 per cent to 34,166.