China auto sales up 5.2% in April: industry group

Vehicle sales in China rose 5.2 percent year on year in April, an industry group said Wednesday, indicating a recovery in the world's biggest auto market.

Total vehicle sales for the month stood at 1.62 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement. The growth rate improved from a 1.0 percent rise in March.

But sales for the first four months of the year dropped 1.3 percent to 6.42 million units, the group said, though the decline slowed from a 3.4 percent slump for the first quarter.

China's auto sales have slowed after the government rolled back incentives and some cities imposed tough restrictions on car numbers to ease chronic traffic congestion and pollution.

Last year, vehicle sales rose just 2.5 percent to 18.51 million units in 2011, compared with an increase of more than 32 percent in 2010.

Yao Jie, deputy head of the association, on Wednesday described the overall auto market as sound but urged the government to promote sales and help domestic car makers receive financing, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Foreign car makers in China have fared better despite the slowdown, helped by name recognition and perceptions of higher quality, analysts say.

US auto giant General Motors said Monday that it saw record sales in China in April, with an 11.7 percent surge to 227,217 vehicles.

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