The Guangdong Province in southern China reported a big increase in the import of cars, including off -road 4WD models, in the first half of this year, AsiaPulse said.

Imports doubled to 9,715 units including 7,349 cars, compared with the same period of 2000, AsiaPulse said. Middle-grade cars with engines under 2.5 litres accounted for 75 percent of the imports.

AsiaPulse said that Japanese-made cars accounted for 48.6 per cent of imports with 42.7 percent coming from EU countries, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Citing officials at the China Import Automotive Trading Centre, Asia Pulse said three factors accounted for the surge in imports – lower import tariffs, an unexpected increase in demand and the devaulation of the yen, mark and euro.