China’s auto sales rose 18.3 percent in December over a year earlier on explosive demand for SUVs, pushing the year’s total sales to 21.1 million, an industry group reported Tuesday.
Drivers in the world’s biggest auto market by the number of vehicles sold bought 2.4 million cars, minivans and SUVs last month, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The month’s total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 15.4 percent to 2.8 million.
Auto sales suffered an unexpectedly sharp contraction from June through August, rattling a global industry that is counting on China to drive revenue growth. Demand rebounded in September after Beijing cut sales taxes on vehicles with smaller engines.
China’s auto market has been cooling since growth peaked at 45 percent in 2009 but last year’s plunge prompted analysts to cut growth forecasts.
Sales have been dented by measures imposed by Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities to curb smog and congestion by limiting new vehicle registrations.
Last month, half the vehicles in Beijing were ordered off the road on alternate days after the Chinese capital’s air pollution spiked to dangerous levels.
Longer-term, demand is expected to be helped by the Communist Party’s October decision to allow all couples to have two children, easing restrictions that limited many to one.