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China auto sales fall 26 pct in January

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BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's automobile sales plunged 26.4 percent year-on-year to 1.39 million units in January this year due to lack of demand during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said Thursday.

Automobile output slumped 27.47 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 million units in the month, the CAAM said.

Chinese worked only 17 days in January as the week-long Spring Festival fell in the month.

On a monthly basis, January auto sales declined 17.75 percent while output fell 23.2 percent.

In a breakdown, sales of passenger cars in January reached 1.16 million units, down 23.81 percent from a year earlier, while passenger vehicle output dropped 24.33 percent year-on-year to 1.05 million units.

Commercial vehicle sales plunged 37.16 percent year-on-year to 229,200 units, and output sank 38.44 percent to 245,900 units.

Sales of sedans declined by more than one-fourth to 797,500 units in January, while sales of utility vehicles (SUVs) and multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) went down 22.7 percent and 11.82 percent to 36,500 units and 126,300 units, respectively, according to the CAAM.

U.S. automakers outpaced other passenger car manufacturers to reach Chinese consumers in the month with sales totaling 98,000 units, but the Japanese and German brands still led the Chinese market with sales amounting 200,000 units and 193,400 units, respectively.

Despite a bleak opening in the domestic market, China's finished auto exports rose 8.32 percent year-on-year to 56,300 units.

The 10 biggest automakers sold 1.24 million vehicles in January, accounting for about 89 percent of the total. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., Hubei-based Dongfeng Motor Corp. and Jilin-based FAW were the top three car sellers.

Earlier last month, Dong Yang, secretary-general of the CAAM, predicted that China's auto sales and output to exceed 20 million units, respectively, with a year-on-year increase between 8 and 10 percent.

China is now the world's largest auto market, with its automobile sales last year reaching 18.50 million units and output topping 18.42 million units.

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