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Toyota, Ford lead China auto sales increase after tax cut
[TOKYO] China's passenger-vehicle sales rose 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, led by Toyota Motor Corp and Ford Motor Co, as consumers took advantage of a government tax cut and discounts from manufacturers.
Deliveries climbed to 5.64 million units in the January to March period, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association. Sales rose 7.8 per cent to 1.92 million last month.
The first quarter pace puts China's auto industry on track to exceed the 6 per cent growth forecast by the separate state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Deliveries rose at the slowest pace since 2012 last year and would have fared worse without the government cutting the sales tax on smaller-engine vehicles by half in October, which boosted demand in the fourth quarter.
The levy cut benefited carmakers including Toyota, whose Corolla and Vios helped it lead major Japanese carmakers in sales growth in the first quarter.
Toyota boosted deliveries by 28 per cent to 291,000 units, putting it within 8,000 units of Nissan Motor Co, which saw sales remain almost unchanged at 298,600 in the same period, as demand slumped for its commercial vehicles. Honda sales rose 11 per cent to 261,731 units, helped by demand for the Vezel and XR-V crossovers.
Ford Motor Co and its joint ventures delivered 14 per cent more vehicles in China in the first quarter, totaling 314,454 vehicles, compared with General Motor Co's 0.2 per cent gain to 963,652 units.
Chinese carmakers including Great Wall Motor Co and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co cut sticker prices for entry-level sport utility vehicles, as competition intensified in the segment, according to Sanford C Bernstein. The move may trigger similar measure by other domestic brands, according to Robin Zhu, an analyst at Bernstein.
Great Wall, the biggest SUV maker in China, sold 5.7 per cent more vehicles in January to March, recording a total of 233,426 units.