China's auto sales rose 4 percent in August as growth in the world's biggest vehicle market cooled further, an industry group reported Friday.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said 1.38 million vehicles were sold in August, compared with 1.32 million a year earlier. Production outstripped sales, rising 8.7 percent from a year earlier.
China auto sales surged in 2009 and 2010, driven by subsidies and tax cuts meant to help the industry rebound from the global crisis. Sales rose 32 percent last year to 18 million vehicles.
But the lackluster growth seen in recent months has prompted most analysts to slash sales forecasts for this year to below 20 million vehicles, or single-digit growth.
Sales in other key emerging markets such as India have also slowed in a worrying trend for global automakers counting on strong growth overseas to make up for lost momentum in developed home markets.
China's sales of passenger cars including sedans, sport-utility vehicles and light trucks, have risen 6 percent this year to 9.22 million vehicles, the CAAM reported.
"The trend of modest increases in sales is likely to continue," it said.
In April, sales dropped for the first time since the 2008 global crisis and fell again in May before edging higher in June and July.
The auto association forecasts that sales for the year will rise just 5 percent.
But while the gloss is off what was their hottest market, foreign automakers are still faring relatively well.
Ford Motor China says its sales climbed 11 percent in January-August from a year earlier, to 341,746 vehicles. In August, which typically would be a slow month, Ford's sales fell 7 percent from a year earlier to 34,916 vehicles.
General Motors Co.'s sales in August rose 13.4 percent, to a record 205,885 vehicles, with sales by its flagship joint venture Shanghai GM up nearly 22 percent to 98,674 vehicles.