China continues as world’s top automaker, market

China remained the world’s largest producer and market for automobiles for the fourth consecutive year in 2012, according to data released Friday by the country’s auto industry association.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement posted on its website that the country’s auto sales last year hit 19.31 million units, up 4.33 percent year on year and marking a new high.

Meanwhile, auto production grew 4.63 percent from a year earlier to 19.27 million vehicles last year, the CAAM said.

“In 2012, both the country’s auto sales and production hit new historic highs, and the country remained the world’s largest auto manufacturer and market for the fourth consecutive year,” the statement said.

China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest automaker and auto market in 2009.

“Automobile production in China has exceeded 18 million units for three years in a row, showing that the industry has entered a stage of steady growth at a relatively high level,” the CAAM said.

In December alone, 1.81 million vehicles were sold, up 1.05 percent from November and 7.12 percent year on year.

Meanwhile, 1.78 million vehicles were produced, up 1.34 percent from November and 5.49 percent from a year earlier, the CAAM said.

Sales and production of passenger vehicles both topped 15 million units last year for the first time, said Dong Yang, secretary-general of the CAAM.

Chinese-brand passenger vehicles saw total sales up 6.1 percent year on year to 6.49 million units, representing 41.9 percent of all passenger cars sold.

“The market share was down 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier,” according to Dong.

Passenger cars of German brands accounted for 18.4 percent of all sales, while Japanese brands represented 16.4 percent of the total, the statement said.

“Compared with the previous year, the share of German brands clearly expanded, while Japanese brands saw an obvious decrease,” Dong added.

Data from the CAAM showed that Japanese-branded passenger cars accounted for 19.4 percent of the total in 2011, while German brands accounted for 16.48 percent.

Japanese automakers were hit hard this summer amid widespread anti-Japan protests that occurred after Japan announced in September that it would “purchase” part of the Diaoyu Islands.

The CAAM said sales and production of new energy cars also experienced rapid growth last year.

China produced a total of 12,552 new energy cars and sold 12,791 of them, according to incomplete statistics from the association.

Production of pure electric vehicles surged 98.8 percent and their sales jumped 103.9 percent.

China’s auto exports maintained the momentum of strong growth last year, with a total of 1.06 million complete vehicles exported, up 29.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the CAAM.

Xinhua