BEIJING, Feb. 23 -- Robust growth in China's vehicle production and sales continued in the first month of 2010 to sustain last year's record-setting momentum.
According to the latest statistics from the China Associations of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), 1.61 million vehicles were produced in January, an increase of 5.04 percent, while auto sales in the nation reached 1.66 million units, a surge of 16.83 percent over December.
Compared to the same month in 2009, January's production and sales were red-hot - up a respective 143 percent and 124 percent year-on-year.
In the passenger vehicle market, monthly production and sales hit a respective 1.24 million and 1.31 million units, rising 4 percent and 18 percent from December last year. Both were new records.
Homegrown brands played an increasingly important role in passenger vehicle sales as they moved 677,400 units in January to account for 49 percent of the segment.
Sales of domestic-brand sedans hit 323,000 units to take 35 percent of the market.
The BYD F3, FAW-Volkswagen Jetta, Tianjin FAW Xiali, Beijing Hyundai Elantra Yuedong, Buick Excelle, Chery QQ, Shanghai Volkswagen Lavida, Brilliance Junjie, Beijing Hyundai Elantra and FAW-Volkswagen Bora were the top 10 sellers in the January passenger car market. Their combined sales reached 221,900 units, accounting for 24 percent of the market.
Production of commercial vehicles rose 7 percent to 370,800 units while sales reached 348,200 vehicles, a 12 percent increase from the previous month.
Compared to January 2009, production and sales soared 180 percent and 177 percent year-on-year.
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) led the industry with sales of 306,700 units, followed by Chang'an, FAW, Dongfeng, Beijing Automotive, Chery, Guangzhou Automotive, BYD, Jianghuai and Brilliance. The top 10 together sold 1.44 million vehicles, or 87 percent of the January total in China.
In January, prices of China-made vehicles also increased as a result of booming market demand.
Statistics from the price monitoring center at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) show vehicle prices rose 2.38 percent from December and increased 1.34 percent year-on-year.
Car prices rose 2.33 percent from December, while commercial vehicles increased 2.13 percent.
"Prices reached a record high since 2006," said Cheng Xiaodong, an expert with the NDRC price monitoring center.
He predicts that vehicle prices are unlikely to drop in the coming months because "supplies cannot meet the market demand".
Booming sales and rising prices both mean more profits for automakers, said industry insiders.
Top executives of SAIC, Dongfeng, FAW and Jianghuai Automotive said they're optimistic about profitability with today's rising auto prices and stable raw material costs.
Industry analysts predict some leading automakers will see profits rise more than 20 percent this year.
Last year's combined revenues by the nation's 17 key automakers reached 1.51 trillion yuan, an increase of 30 percent over 2008.