China may produce 8.6 million vehicles, 18 percent more than last year, in 2007 as it narrows the gap with Japan and the U.S., the world's top two automakers, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
``It is estimated that China's vehicle output will definitely exceed 8.6 million,'' Yao Jingyuan, chief economist at the bureau, said at an economic seminar in Beijing today.
China's economic growth, averaging about 10 percent over the past five years, is raising demand for automobiles and has boosted production from about 100,000 vehicles a year in the 1980s to 7.28 million last year, making the country the world's third-biggest vehicle producer.
Vehicle sales jumped 23 percent in the first 11 months to 7.95 million, surpassing the total of 7.22 million for all of 2006. Production in the first 11 months of this year rose 22 percent to 8.06 million.
Japan made 11.5 million vehicles last year while the U.S. made 11.3 million.