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Chinese carmakers predict sales rebound

2011-05-13 09:46

Chinese carmakers predict sales rebound
An automobile dealership in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. China's total vehicle sales stood at 1.89 million units in January and 1.83 million in March. [Photo / China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Auto sales in China may continue to grow slowly this year through the second quarter before rising in the second half, said Wang Dazong, president of Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.

"I think it will pick up later this year and end up at about 10 percent," Wang said in an interview in New York on Wednesday. Beijing Auto is the Chinese partner of Daimler AG and Hyundai Motor Co.

Chinese automakers are seeking to boost sales as competition rises at home, with foreign carmakers introducing local models even after the nation ended tax breaks and subsidies, which helped propel the country past the United States as the world's largest auto market.

Car deliveries, including multipurpose and sport-utility vehicles, to dealerships rose 2.8 percent in April from a year earlier to 1.14 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said. Sales may fail to increase by a previously estimated 10 to 15 percent this year, the industry group said last month.

"There is a limit as to how many vehicles Chinese consumers can buy in a month, and at present, the current 1.8- to 1.9-million level pretty much hit the ceiling," said George Yin, an analyst with BOC International in Beijing.

China's total vehicle sales stood at 1.89 million units in January and 1.83 million in March, according to CAAM.

Beijing Auto sold 1.49 million vehicles last year and aims to more than double sales to as many as 4 million by 2015.

The company is investing 4.12 billion yuan ($634 million) to build manufacturing facilities for its own brand of cars in the Chinese capital, with construction expected to finish by the end of November, according to its website.

The automaker is using technology from Saab Automobile AB, for which it paid about 1.4 billion Swedish krona ($221 million) in 2009, in its own-brand cars.

First-quarter profit of Beijing Auto, which isn't publicly traded, increased 54 percent to 3.48 billion yuan, according to its website. The automaker made a profit of 11 billion yuan last year.

Beijing Auto makes Mercedes Benz E-class and C-class sedans with Daimler, and Sonata sedans, Accent compacts and ix35 sport-utility vehicles with Hyundai Motor.

Beiqi Foton Motor Co, Beijing Auto's commercial-vehicle unit, formed a 6.35-billion-yuan truck venture with Daimler last year. Foton also plans to work with the German automaker to target overseas sales.

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