BEIJING (AP) — China's auto sales growth held steady in June and Japanese brands rebounded from a slump despite a credit crunch and slowing economic growth.
Auto sales rose 9.3 percent over a year earlier to 1.4 million vehicles, the China Association of Auto Manufacturers reported Wednesday. That was in line with May's 9 percent growth.
The strong sales could come as reassurance to global automakers that are looking to China, the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, to drive revenues amid weakness elsewhere.
June sales rose despite a shortage of credit in China's financial markets and indications economic growth weakened.
Total sales, which include trucks and buses, also grew strongly, rising 11.2 percent to 1.7 million vehicles, according to the CAAM.
Sales overall were better than expected, said Zhang Xin, an analyst at Guotai Jun'an Securities in Beijing.
"Lower prices are the main reason. The authorities encouraged consumers to spend money," said Zhang.
Chinese auto sales growth has decelerated steadily since mid-2012 as some major cities tried to curb congestion and smog by limiting new vehicle registrations.
"Expensive parking fees and licenses and limited room makes sales more difficult and limits the development of the auto industry," said Zhang. "The government should not encourage consumption before doing good planning."
Sales of Japanese brands rose 16.5 percent to 2.3 million vehicles, according to CAAM, improving from a slump that began last year amid tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Chinese brands lagged the market again in June, the CAAM said, indicating domestic automakers were losing market share to global brands and their local partners.
Sales of Chinese brand autos rose 5.5 percent to 5.3 million vehicles. Sales of German brands rose 20.6 percent to 2.9 million vehicles and American brands were up 12.7 percent to 1.8 million vehicles.
General Motors Co. said June sales by the company and its Chinese joint venture partners rose 10.6 percent over a year earlier to 236,207 vehicles. Ford Motor Co. said its sales gained 44 percent to 75,254 vehicles.
Sales at Japan's Nissan Motor Co. fell 7.7 percent to 101,400 vehicles, though it said that decline was due partly to comparison with strong sales in the same month last year.
Germany's BMW said sales of its BMW and Mini brand vehicles rose 6.9 percent to 184,489 vehicles.
AP researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed.