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Luxury car sales in China slow sharply in 2004
Updated: 2005-02-14 13:56

Sales of luxury cars in China last year slowed sharply, with Audi and Mercedes Benz of Germany both failing to meet sales goals.

A Jaguar sits on display in an auto shop in Nanjing on November 21, 2004. [newsphoto/file]
China's auto market, once seen by many foreign makers as virtually untapped frontier territory, saw sales growth in 2004 fall to 15 percent after an explosive 75 percent in 2003, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

It said Audi, a part of the Volkswagen group which has a joint venture with China's First Automotive Works Corp, sold 64,018 cars in China in 2004 for a gain of only 0.8 percent from 2003 when sales had soared more than 70 percent.

Mercedes-Benz, owned by US-German giant Daimler-Chrysler, saw combined sales on the mainland and in Hong Kong rise 5.0 percent to 11,500 in 2004, with its top of the range S Class sedan accounting for more than 50 percent.

Both luxury car makers, however, failed to meet their sales targets in China last year, the Xinhua report said, with Audi having planned to sell 80,000 and Mercedez-Benz 13,000-14,000 cars.

Another German luxury car producer, BMW, said last month that its sales in China last year actually fell 16 percent to 15,500 after skyrocketting 176 percent in 2003.

"These luxury car makers' weak performances in China were largely the result of a sharp deceleration in the overall domestic car market last year," Jia Xinguang, chief analyst of China Automotive Industry Consulting and Development Corp, told Xinhua.

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