Toyota Motor sales in China last month rose 45% year on year to a record monthly high of about 72,000 vehicles as stimulus policies bolstered consumer confidence.

For the first nine months of the year, sales were up 13% to about 486,000 cars, a company spokesman told Reuters.

"Market demand has been very strong this year especially for small cars thanks to the government's incentives. New models also helped push up our sales," he said.

China's auto market, now the world's largest, is enjoying robust growth this year as government policies, including aggressive cuts in sales tax for small cars, boost demand.

Earlier this year, Toyota launched updated versions of its Vios sedan and Yaris hatchback compact cars  which are both eligible for the tax incentives.

It also launched the RAV4 SUV assembled by its joint venture with FAW Group last April, followed by the Highlander [Kluger] SUV, made at its JV with Guangzhou Automobile, in May, the news agency noted.

Guangzhong Toyota recently raised the Highlander annual sales target to 35,000 units for 2009, from 20,000, due to brisk sales, the spokesman said.

China is also the only country outside Japan where Toyota assembles its Prius hybrid, from CKD kits shipped from its Tsutumi factory near Nagoya.

Other foreign automakers have also done well in China this year.

Volkswagen sales rose 37% to 1.06m units in China and Hong Kong from January to September while GM's China sales rose 55.6% to 1.29m in the same period.

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