China passes U.S. as world's largest auto market
For years, Western businesses have been looking at China's 1 billion citizens and licking their chops at the world's largest, most untapped consumer market.
That future is finally coming true: China has officially passed the U.S. as the world's biggest buyer of vehicles.
According to data released today by the China Association of Auto Manufacturers, 13.6 million vehicles were sold in that country last year, compared with record-low sales of 10.4 million in the United States. Overall, 2009 sales were up 46 percent in China compared with 2008.
U.S. vehicle sales were down 21 percent.
December, when the Chinese bought 1.4 million vehicles, helped push the communist nation past the U.S.
As in the U.S., which had a Cash for Clunkers program in 2009 meant to spur new car sales, China cut taxes on half on sales of new vehicles with smaller engines. That tax cut will be pared back this year, which probably will slow sales.
The Chinese are buying passenger cars. Sales of those rose 54 percent last year, to 10.3 million vehicles, showing China is not yet a truck nation, as the U.S. is.
GM is very big in China, which loves the Buick. Volkswagen is also very popular.
-- Frank Ahrens
Follow me on Twitter at @theticker
January 11, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
Categories: The Ticker | Tags: Buick, China, GM, General Motors, Volkswagen, auto sales, cash for clunkers
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