China's auto sales rebounded in June, reversing declines in April and May, as weak purchasing in the beginning of this year created a pool of pent-up demand.
"Sales growth in June indicates a recovery in the market," said Chen Shihua, assistant secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Auto sales in the latest month rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier to 2.2 million, after dropping 0.1 percent in May and 2.2 percent in April, according to the association.
Passenger car sales were higher than expected, topping 1.8 million in June, the association said. That was up 2.3 percent from a year ago, after a decline of 2.6 percent in May and 3.7 percent in April — the biggest two-month drop in two years.
That's a reverse from the pattern of the last five years, when passenger car sales in June were below May levels.
Sports utility vehicles remain the stars of the market. Sales in that segment rose about 16 percent in June from a year earlier to 741,000 units. Sedan sales, by contrast, declined 4.3 percent to 883,000, and multipurpose vehicles slipped 3.9 percent to 164,000.
The passenger car association said in its newsletter that sales of luxury sedans and luxury SUVs were among the biggest gainers in June. Sales of the BMW 3 Series jumped 48.8 percent to 13,222 units, sales of the Audi A6 climbed 17.5 percent to 11,990, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sales surged 179 percent to 9,206.
Sales of new-energy vehicles rose for a third consecutive month in a sign that China's promotion of clean-energy cars is beginning to take a firm hold. Sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids reached 59,000 units in June, up 33 percent from a year earlier. That followed gains of 28 percent in May and nearly 8 percent in April.
"Sales of new-energy vehicles will continue to increase in the second half of this year, which will benefit the overall passenger car market," the association said.
Indeed, sales of new-energy vehicles rose 14.4 percent to 195,000 units in the first six months of the year. About 80 percent of those were all-electric vehicles and the rest were plug-in hybrids.
In June, commercial vehicle sales rose 18 percent to 340,000 units.
China's vehicle market, the largest in the world, has managed gains despite slower growth. After rising about 14 percent last year, overall vehicle sales were up 3.8 percent in the first half and are pegged to grow about 5 percent for the full year.