China Auto Sales May Rise to 16 Million, Even as Growth Slows, Group Says

China’s auto sales may rise to 16 million this year, an auto makers’ group said, boosting its forecast from a previous estimate of 15 million.

Vehicle sales will be higher than previously expected judging by deliveries in the first half of the year, Beijing- based Dong Yang, vice president of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a phone interview today. The State Information Center also said in April auto sales may rise 17 percent to 16 million from a record 13.6 million last year.

Even so, sales growth is slowing from 2009, when government incentives helped demand surge 46 percent, making China the world’s biggest automobile market. Wholesale passenger-car deliveries in July increased at the slowest pace in 16 months, the auto makers group reported yesterday. Monthly totals may begin shrinking from year-earlier levels as early as September, according to the Daiwa Institute of Research.

The revised forecast is not a surprise to the market, said John Zeng, an independent market analyst in Shanghai.

“Fifteen million units was too conservative,” said Zeng, who has covered the industry for the past 14 years. He expects car sales to rebound in the third quarter as consumers buy cars before China’s week-long Golden Week holiday in October. “People tend to buy cars when big holidays are coming and use them to go traveling,” he said.

China’s passenger-car sales rose 13.6 percent to 946,200 in July, the carmakers association said.

Auto dealers are stepping up incentives to lure customers and clear rising inventories after sales numbers began growing at a slower pace in April amid higher inflation and easing economic expansion.

Car prices may fall as auto makers join dealers in offering discounts in the fourth quarter, China’s planning ministry has said.

--Liza Lin. Editors: Terje Langeland, Kae Inoue

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Liza Lin in Shanghai at +86-21-6104-7010 or Llin15@bloomberg.net

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