China's sales of domestically made vehicles surged 25 percent in February from a year earlier, as a tax cut for small cars and other measures helped revive the market, an industry group said Wednesday.
February's sales totaled 827,600 units, up 12 percent from the 735,000 sold in January, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a report posted on its Web site.
Production in February totaled 807,900 units, up about 23 percent from the year before, it said.
Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corp., a partner of both General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG, led the market with 169,500 vehicles sold in February, followed by FAW Group, with 114,100 units sold, the industry group said.
Passenger cars accounted for 607,300 of the vehicles sold.
China is the world's second biggest auto market, though sales declined in recent months after several years of torrid growth. The country's monthly auto sales overtook the U.S. in January for the first time, as U.S. sales plunged.
China slashed the sales tax on small-engine passenger cars earlier this year, seeking to boost sales of fuel-efficient vehicles, especially in the countryside. It is also rolling out a program to subsidize car purchases by farmers.
"The forecast is that the situation in March will be even better than February," the state-run newspaper Shanghai Securities News quoted Xiong Chuanlin, a senior association official, as saying.
However, despite the apparent rebound in China's own auto market, a slump in demand is crimping sales overseas: exports in January fell 33.5 percent from a year earlier, to $2.66 billion, the group said.
The impact was most severe for domestic-brand cars, with January exports falling 64 percent from a year earlier to 16,300 units, it said.
Imports of vehicles also took a hit amid the deepening economic downturn, falling 20.3 percent from a year earlier in January to $1.73 billion, it said.