BEIJING, July 19 -- The Chinese government has subsidized the purchase of 5.51 million cars and motorcycles in the first half of this year, providing subsidies worth 7.89 billion yuan (1.16 billion U.S. dollars) to rural residents, the Ministry of Commerce said here Friday.
The subsidies handed out by the government in the first half of this year were close to the level of the all of 2009, marking a robust growth year on year, the ministry said.
Among the subsidies, 5.49 billion yuan (811 million U.S. dollars) went to rural buyers of 1.43 million auto units while another 2.4 billion yuan (354 million U.S. dollars) were for the purchases of 4.09 million motorcycles.
The Chinese government launched the auto and motorcycle trade-in subsidy program in January 2009 to beef up rural consumption amid the economic downturn in the wake of the global financial crisis.
China has extended its auto subsidy program to rural consumers for an additional year, running until the end of 2010, to continue supporting the domestic automobile market.
Subsidies for rural residents who purchase motorcycles will be prolonged even longer to January 31, 2013.
According to the Ministry of Finance, by the end of December 2009, China had subsidized the purchase of more than 5.83 million cars and motorcycles, with a total sum of 8.68 billion yuan (1.28 billion U.S. dollars).
More than 250 auto and motorcycle manufacturers took part in the subsidy program for trade-in cars in 2009.