New vehicle sales in China increased by 11.6% to 2.81m units in January from 2.52m units a year earlier, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The association said more working days during the month compared with last year, due to this year's lunar new year holidays falling in February, helped lift sales. This is expected to negatively affect February volume, however.

CAAM expects total vehicle sales to rise by around 3% to just under 30m units in 2018 – a similar growth rate to 2017. 

Last month passenger vehicle sales amounted to 2.46m units, up 10.7% from a year earlier. This included a 7.3% rise in passenger car sales to 1.16m units and a 23% jump in SUV sales to 1.08m units while MPV sales fell by more than 13% to 179,000 units.

Sales of commercial cars were up by 18% at 353,000 units last month.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), mostly electric and hybrid vehicles, expanded more than fivefold to 38,470 units – with electric vehicles alone amounting to 33,848 units.

The association expects sales of NEVs to increase to around 1m units this year from 777,000 units in 2017, rising to 2m units by 2020. By 2025 it expects them to account for 20% of total vehicle sales in China.