China's passenger vehicle sales jumped 33% in September over a year earlier, as price cuts helped spur demand, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has reported.

But the 354,000 units of passenger vehicles sold lagged behind production, which totaled 358,200 units, according to data on the industry group's web site cited by the Associated Press (AP).

After lagging earlier in the year, sales have rebounded in most vehicle categories, with purchases of passenger cars up 36% against September 2004 at 254,500 units, the association reportedly said. Sales of multipurpose vehicles, such as minivans, jumped 89% to 13,800 units and sales of sport utility vehicles rose 56% to 20,700.

AP said passenger vehicle sales rose 16.8% in the first three quarters of this year, compared with the same period a year earlier, to 2.8 million units, with buyers are tending to opt for smaller cars amid higher petrol prices.

Nissan's Tiida, a new subcompact which sells as the Versa in other markets, was the best-selling model in September, at 13,700 units, just ahead of Hyundai's Elantra 1.6, which sold 13,300 units, the figures reportedly showed.

For the year to date, the Tianjin FAW Xiali compact was the best seller, with sales totaling 133,800, followed by the Elantra (131,200).