BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales rose 7.1 percent in 2012 after growth accelerated in December as an economic recovery began to gain traction, an industry group reported Friday.
Sales in the world’s biggest market by number of vehicles sold totaled 15.5 million units, the China Association of Auto Manufacturers said. December sales rose 6.9 percent to 1.46 million vehicles.
Global automakers are looking to China to drive revenues amid weakness elsewhere. But last year’s growth was hampered by an economic slump and ownership restrictions imposed by some cities to curb traffic and smog.
Full-year growth was healthy even though it came in below the CAAM’s earlier forecast of 8 percent, said Zhang Xin, an industry analyst for Guotai Jun’an Securities in Beijing.
“The purchasing power of Chinese auto customers is pretty good,” said Zhang. “Growth in 2013 could be even better, even without any stimulus. And the new government also is advocating expanding domestic demand.”
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