China's 2008 Auto Industry Sales Growth Slows To 6.7%

Top-Selling Passenger Car Models In 2008

Source: China Association of Automobile Manufacturers

Model Company Sales (Units)
Jetta FAW-Volkswagen Co. 202,303
Santana Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co. 197,935
Excelle Shanghai General Motors Co. 175,470
Accord Guangzhou Honda Autombile Co. 170,517
Corolla Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co. 164,270

Top Passenger Car Makers By Sales In 2008

Source: China Association of Automobile Manufacturers

Company Sales (Units)
FAW-Volkswagen Co. 498,908
Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co. 478,059
Shanghai General Motors Corp. 395,715
FAW Toyota Motor Co. 347,663
Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co. 318,785
Chery Automobile Co. 286,569
Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co. 277,358
Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. 253,298
Geely Automobile Holdings Co. 221,823

BEIJING - China's automobile industry sales growth slowed to 6.7% in 2008, putting an end to at least five years of double-digit growth, data from a semi-official industry group showed Monday.

Passenger vehicle sales rose 7.27% to 6.76 million units last year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said, without giving the year-earlier figure.

Sales of commercial vehicles rose 5.25% to 2.62 million units, CAAM said.

Following a strong 21.8% growth in 2007, 2008 started off with robust double- digit monthly sales increases in the first half of the year.

However, as a global economic slowdown impacted China, auto sales fell 11.64% in December to 741,600 units, CAAM said. Passenger vehicle sales for the month fell 7.99% to 584,600 units, and sales of commercial vehicles in December plummeted 23.03% to 157,000 units.

The economic slowdown resulted in weaker sales for some automobile makers in China. In 2008, General Motors Corp. (GM) posted a 7% decline in sales at Shanghai General Motors Corp., its flagship passenger vehicle joint venture.

Ford Motor Co. (F) also posted a 5.9% decline in 2008 sales at its passenger vehicle joint venture, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Including sales at its commercial vehicle joint venture with Jiangling Motors Corp., Ford sold 306,306 units in China last year.

Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) retained its position as the top-selling passenger vehicle maker in China last year, with group sales up 12.5% at 1,024,008 units. Sales of Volkswagen-branded vehicles grew 8.2% while sales of vehicles under its Audi brand name rose 17.3%.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s (TM) sales in China rose 17% last year to 585,000 units, while Honda Motor Co.'s (HMC) sales were up 11.7% at 473,297 units.

GM sold 445,709 units through Shanghai GM, and also sold 40,709 units of the Chevrolet Spark hatchback through its 34%-owned joint venture with Wuling Automobile Co. and SAIC Motor Corp. (600104.SH). In addition, 1,556 vehicles made under the Opel brand name were imported to China. Including Spark sales, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. sales rose 17.9% to 647,296 units.

Hyundai Motor Co.'s (005380.SE) China sales rose 25% to 319,034 units, while its 39%-owned affiliate Kia Motors Corp. (000270.SE) sold 151,063 units last year, up 36.6%.

Chery Automobile Co. sold 356,000 units in 2008, down 6.56% from a year earlier.

(Dow Jones)

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