SHANGHAI - China's auto market grew steadily in September, edging closer to the 5% growth target for 2017 laid out by most industry analysts at the start of the year.
Total vehicle sales in September increased 5.7% compared with a year ago to 2.71 million, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Thursday, in line with growth of around 4%-6% achieved in recent months.
The world's biggest auto market grew 4.5% in the first three quarters of 2017, dragged by a sluggish start to the year caused by an increase in the country's auto-sales tax. Last month, the manufacturers' association warned that this year's 5% growth objective was becoming an "idealistic goal," but three consecutive months of growth above 5% may now have put the target within reach.
Even so, the association's assistant secretary-general Xu Shihua said Thursday that sales would come under pressure in the final quarter of the year, with demand for new passenger cars remaining relatively weak, and growth dependent on red-hot demand for commercial vehicles.
Passenger car sales in September grew 3.3% from a year ago to 2.34 million, with sales increasing 2.4% in the first nine months of this year. That compares with 15.9% growth last year, a rate of expansion which the manufacturers' association said is unlikely to be achieved again as the Chinese auto market matures.
Commercial vehicles sales increased by nearly a quarter last month, and are up 18% so far this year.
While some individual auto makers have yet to publish their September China sales figures, several reported a strong month. General Motors Co. said its China sales in September were up 6.6% from a year ago, while the Japanese trio of Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. all reported a monthly sales increase of 14%-15%.
-- Liyan Qi in Beijing contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 12, 2017 03:13 ET (07:13 GMT)