China auto sales growth slows

Sep 11, 2014 12:00 AM

China's auto sales reached 1.72 million vehicles in August, a rise of just 4.0 percent compared with the same month a year ago, an industry group said Thursday.

In July sales had climbed 6.7 percent year-on-year to 1.62 million vehicles, previous figures showed.

For the first eight months of the year, the country's auto sales rose 7.7 percent to 15.02 million vehicles, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement.

China is critically important to foreign car manufacturers, which dominate the market, given massive demand from a growing middle class and weaker sales in other parts of the world such as Europe.

But the recent fining of several foreign auto firms for allegedly making use of a dominant market position to control prices, deemed to be in violation of China's anti-monopoly law, has taken some of the shine off its appeal.

Authorities on Thursday fined an affiliate of German automaker Volkswagen more than $40 million (R438 million) for price-fixing for cars and repair services in the central province of Hubei, according to a statement.

Separately, the government fined Chrysler of the United States - which has merged with Italy's Fiat - over $5 million for recommending prices to dealers in Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Still, foreign companies continue to record healthy sales.

US auto giant General Motors set a new record for August as its China sales surged 14.0 percent year-on-year to 280,178 vehicles, the company said.

Competitor Ford sold 77,506 vehicles, up 9.0 percent from the same month last year.

Full-year auto sales in China reached 21.98 million vehicles last year, when a recovery in Japanese brands offset the impact of slowing economic growth.

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