China’s passenger-vehicle sales rose in June, exceeding analysts’ estimates for a fourth consecutive month after automakers increased shipments ahead of scheduled shutdowns for the summer.
Wholesale deliveries, including multipurpose and sport utility vehicles, gained 16 percent to 1.28 million units last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement today. That compares with the 1.27 million average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Honda Motor Co. (7267) and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) led sales gains in China as Japanese carmakers rebounded from last year’s earthquake disruptions. Auto manufacturers may have delivered more vehicles to dealerships to meet sales targets for the half- year period, according to UBS AG. (UBSN) Last month’s growth may also reflect increased shipments before traditional factory closures in July and August for maintenance, CSC International Holdings said.
“Carmakers typically shut factories for a period in summer for routine maintenance and are boosting dealership stockpiles before it,” said Han Weiqi, a Shanghai-based analyst at CSC International Holdings Ltd. “This comes at the cost of bigger inventory pressure at dealerships.”
In the first six months, passenger-vehicle deliveries gained 7.1 percent to 7.61 million units, the association said.
Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, increased 9.9 percent to 1.58 million units in June. Sport-utility vehicle deliveries gained 52 percent, the best-performing segment.
Growth may slow in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province that borders Hong Kong, after the southern Chinese city of imposed a quota on new vehicle registrations this month to control vehicle emissions and ease traffic congestion.
Guangzhou -- which followed Beijing, Shanghai and Guiyang in implementing curbs on vehicles -- may not be last. Morgan Stanley (MS:US) said in a July 2 report that 11 other cities, accounting for 15 percent of total industry sales in 2010, are candidates to also implement limits on cars.
The slowing economy may also be undermining the outlook. Chinese second-quarter economic growth, due to be released July 13, may have slid to 7.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the median of 33 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey as of July 6. The economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first three months, the fifth quarterly slowdown.
In the first five months, passenger-car sales increased 5.5 percent to 6.33 million units after growth of 6.1 percent a year earlier. Figures for April, May and June last year were hurt by disruption from the Japan earthquake.
General Motors Co. (GM:US), China’s largest foreign automaker, boosted vehicle sales 10 percent to 213,495 units, led by demand for its Buick sedans and Wuling minivans, the company said in a statement July 5. Demand from consumers in China’s interior provinces will help sales growth remain steady in the second half of the year, Kevin Wale, GM’s China head said.
Ford Motor Co. (F:US) raised total vehicle sales in China by 18 percent to 52,440 units. First-half deliveries gained 1 percent. BYD, the Chinese carmaker partly owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A:US), sold 12 percent fewer cars in the first five months, according to industry analyst LMC Automotive.
Honda increased deliveries 84 percent to 64,652 units, with sales and production a year earlier disrupted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toyota sold 70,500 units in June, 19 percent more than a year earlier.
Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s China demand gained 10 percent to 119,200.
Among luxury carmakers, Volkswagen’s Audi boosted sales 20 percent last month to 33,309 units. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG increased deliveries 13 percent to 23,930 on the mainland, which excludes Hong Kong. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz sales in June climbed 2 percent to 17,250 units.
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