BEIJING -- China's passenger-car sales rose at a faster pace for a fourth straight month in September, as automakers offered discounts and consumers bought cars ahead of a week-long national holiday. Deliveries of cars including sport-utility vehicles and minivans gained 8.8 percent to 1.32 million units last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday in a statement.
Sales climbed 7.3 percent in August, 6.7 percent in July and 6.2 percent in June.
Total sales of vehicles including buses and trucks rose 5.5 percent to 1.65 million units in September.
Automaker shares extended gains in Hong Kong after the release of the data showed car sales grew at the fastest pace in seven months. Shares of companies including BYD Co. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. have declined this year on concern that the withdraw of sales-tax breaks and rebates for rural buyers in January would reduce demand.
"People have the impulse to buy vehicles ahead of a long holiday, especially for October as it's the best season for travel," said Han Weiqi, an analyst with CSC International Holdings Ltd. in Shanghai. "Discounts offered by automakers also contributed to last month's growth."
But overall, demand has also been reduced by the government's efforts to rein in consumer prices that grew at the fastest pace in three years in July. The People's Bank of China has raised interest rates five times in the past 12 months and ordered lenders to set aside a record amount as reserves.
The auto manufacturing association cut its 2011 sales forecast for the second time in three months this week, saying that deliveries are expected to grow less than 5 percent. The revised projection is less than half of the association's estimates from January for sales growth of 10 percent to 15 percent. Vehicle sales grew 32 percent in 2010.
"Unstable international economic environment has affected China's overall economic growth and undermined its vehicle demand," Noh Jae Man, president of Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., said in an interview on Oct. 11.
Detroit-based General Motors Co., the biggest overseas carmaker in China, said on Oct. 10 that sales rose 15 percent to 240,244 last month. Its minivan venture SAIC-GM-Wuling introduced discounts starting May to spur sales. In the first nine months of the year, overall sales expanded 3.6 percent to 13.6 million units, with passenger-car sales gaining 6.4 percent to 10.5 million units.