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Measures help drive auto sales higher

MAJOR car makers reported strong growth in China sales in April and analysts said the government stimulus measures are helping the auto industry out of the economic downturn.

"It's pretty certain that the nation's economy is showing signs of recovery and the auto industry's recovery is even brighter," said Lang Xuehong, director of the automotive division at consulting firm Sinotrust. "As well as the favorable policies, April is also a prime season for vehicle sales."

Ford Motor Corp yesterday reported a 33 percent sales increase in its Chinese joint venture, Chang'an Ford Mazda, last month because of robust demand for its Fiesta and Focus models. Sales of Chang'an Ford Mazda climbed to 25,882 units in April, from 19,462 units for the same period last year.

General Motors Corp on Tuesday said sales in China surged 50 percent to a record high of 151,084 units in April, helped by its Wuling minivans, Buick sedans and its new Chevrolet Cruze compact cars.

The government's incentives, including cutting purchase tax by half on cars with engines of 1.6 liters and below and offering subsidies to vehicle buyers in rural areas, have helped to revive the industry. "The government incentives began to take effect and a fuel pricing reform has created more demand in second-tier cities," Tan Jijia, an analyst at Pacific Securities Co, said.

Premier car brand Audi also said it sold 12,031 luxury sedans in April - a new monthly high - in China.

Sales of Shanghai Volkswagen Co, the venture between Volkswagen AG and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, totaled 60,425 units last month - a record high.

"The sizzling April sales are not only the result of government incentives but also due to improving market confidence," Lang added.


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