BEIJING — Chinese auto sales rose in June at their fastest monthly rate this year, keeping the country on track to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest auto market this year.
Sales last month jumped 36.5% from a year earlier to 1.14 million vehicles, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday. Sales of passenger vehicles rose 48.4% to a record 872,900 vehicles.
China is likely to sell more than 11 million autos this year, the association said. That would represent a 17.3% increase from the 9.38 million vehicles sold last year and exceed the association’s earlier prediction of 10.2 million vehicles.
U.S. car and light-truck sales fell 28% last month to 860,000 vehicles, according to market-research firm Autodata Corp. That put annualized U.S. sales at 9.69 million vehicles, continuing a trend from early this year in which Chinese sales have outpaced those in the U.S.
Car sales in China have benefited from favorable tax policies on small cars and subsidies for purchases in rural areas.
General Motors Corp.’s Chinese sales rose 38% in the first half to 814,442 vehicles, a record for the company. Sales have been especially strong at GM’s SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. joint venture, which makes small commercial vehicles eligible for tax relief.
But sales of large cars and luxury vehicles have also grown amid improvements in China’s economy. Sales of BMW AG’s namesake brand rose 46% last month to 8,033 vehicles. Audi AG’s sales in China and Hong Kong rose 28% to 13,265 vehicles.