GACs GE3 EV SUV. EVs and SUVs are strong sellers in China this year.

GAC's GE3 EV SUV. EVs and SUVs are strong sellers in China this year.

China's vehicle market was up again in September for a fourth straight month, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

CAAM said total vehicle sales in September were up 5.7% on last year to 2.71m. Vehicle sales so far this year stand at 20.2m, some 4.5% up against the same period in 2016.

China's vehicle market has been dragged down by a slow start to the year caused by an increase in the country's sales tax and weaker demand as the economy has slowed. However, sales have picked up in recent months, helped by some uptick to the economy and higher incentives from some OEMs.

Analysis by just-auto shows the seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) for China sales dipping to 25m a year in March, but up to 29m by August.

The Korean brands are continuing to suffer in the Chinese market due to the diplomatic spat between South Korea and China, but the Japanese brands are emerging as beneficiaries. Japanese makers Toyota, Nissan and Honda reported September sales up by 14%-15%.

Last month, the manufacturers' association warned that this year's 5% growth objective could be difficult to hit. The problem for the remainder of the year will be the comparison base of late last year when companies pushed sales ahead of the end-year tax change.

Data also showed that passenger car sales in September grew 3.3% from a year ago to 2.34m with sales increasing 2.4% in the first nine months of this year.

Shi Jianhua, CAAM's deputy secretary general, told local media that 4% growth for China's vehicle market this year is now a more realistic target than the 5% forecast issued in January.

See also: GAC starts selling GE3 SUV EV in China

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