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China's vehicle market looked to have weakened further in January with some key producers reporting declining sales ahead of the release of official data from the China automotive Manufacturers Association (CAAM).

But the picture was decidedly mixed with some brands also reporting record sales last month while others experienced a continuation of the market slowdown seen in the fourth quarter of 2018 which included a 13% decline in December.

The country's leading electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD Auto, reported a 3.7% year on year sales increase in January to 43,920 units with new energy vehicle sales rising 291% to 28,668 units.

The company last month issued CNY1bn (US$147m) in bonds to fund growth projects including increased production of new energy vehicles and related parts such as batteries.

Overall sales of new energy vehicles in China last year rose by 62% to 1.26m units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, and further strong growth is expected driven by the introduction of minimum sales at the beginning of 2019.

Geely Auto, including its Lynk & Co joint venture, also saw its sales rise last month – by 2% to 158,400 units and by 70% compared with December volume.

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By GlobalData

BMW and Mercedes-Benz reported records sales in China last month. BMW deliveries rose 15.5% to 63,195 units while Mercedes-Benz sales were up by 4.8% at over 70,000 units.

FAW-VW Audi also saw its sales rise, 5.3% to 63,900 units.

Honda said deliveries rose 8.2% to a record 136,483 units while Nissan and Infiniti combined sales fell 0.8% to 133,934 units.

Bad news is often slower to emerge and data released by SAIC Motor this week was not exactly rosy. Group sales, including those of its joint ventures, fell 14.1% to 611,502 units in January, including an 11.1% drop at SAIC-Volkswagen to 190,000 units and an 11.0% fall at SAIC-GM to 180,500. 

Sales by SAIC-Wuling-GM also fell last month, by over 20% to 160,000 units while SAIC's main own brand passenger vehicle subsidiary – SAIC Motor PV, reported a 17.8% drop to 60,000. 

Hyundai also hinted its China sales in January had weakened further although it had yet to release the data.