Sales of passenger vehicles in China have fallen 4.2% year on year over the first 10 months of this year to 1,111,263 units, according to China Daily citing data from the country’s Passenger Car Association.

The paper quoted Rao Da, the association’s secretary-general, as saying that sales had been hit by a slowing economy, higher fuel prices, a week-long October national holiday and the tightening of subsidies for fuel-efficient vehicles. He warned that market weakness was likely to continue.

Rao was also quoted as saying: “We believe that (November) sales will also decrease from last year and maybe even at a bigger negative growth rate.”

Car sales in China have been hit by the ending of government purchase incentives at the end of 2010 and, at the beginning of October, received a further blow when the ministry of finance tightened requirements for a subsidy programme for fuel-saving vehicles.

Over 70% of the 427 car models previously covered by the ministry’s programme are now ineligible for subsidies, China Daily reported.

Figures from the CPCA are typically released ahead of official data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, but are considered by industry watchers to be an accurate gauge of the domestic passenger vehicle market.

CAAM said it will release October data later this week.