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Chery Automobile has set its sights on growing vehicle sales by as much as 80% this year, a further reflection of the strength of the Chinese market in an otherwise lacklustre global market.

In a statement, China’s largest automaker, which sold 500,000 vehicles in 2009, said that it would sell at least 700,000 vehicles in 2010. However, it added that it was working towards a target of 900,000.

China’s auto sales set a new monthly record in January with more than 1.66m cars sold – more than double the number sold in the same month last year.

Strong demand for new vehicles last year continued in January, with sales up 124% year on year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Auto sales topped 1.66m while output of new vehicles reached 1.61m.

CAAM also recently confirmed last month that China had overtaken the United States to become the world’s top auto maker and market in 2009. China’s sales for the year hit 13.64m units while production reached 13.79m units.

However, Honda warned last month that it expected sales growth in China to slow in 2010 following a surge last year after Beijing introduced emergency steps to promote new car sales.

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By GlobalData

Chief financial officer Yoichi Hojo told reporters in February that “growth last year and in January were exceptional and owe much to tax cuts for cars with an engine displacement of 1.6 litres or less as well economic measures.”

He said: “We see China as a promising market over the long run.” He added that the market there could achieve annual growth of 15 to 20% over in the long term, given no major shift in government policies.