Data released by ARA indicates that China's passenger vehicle market reached 182,289 units in October - an increase of 61% over the same month last year. China's year-to-date sales in the first ten months hit 1,641,195 units - some 68% ahead of the same period in 2002. (Note: ARA defines passenger vehicles as cars, SUVs and MPVs.)

Shanghai-Volkswagen (SVW) posted highest sales by brand in October, with sales of 316,307 vehicles (19.3% of the market). SVW was followed by FAW-VW with sales of 224,257 units and Shanghai-GM, which posted sales of 157,609 units.

The top five best-selling models in China in the first ten months of the year were the FAW-VW Jetta (111,142 units), SVW Santana (100,689 units), SVW Passat (97,453 units), the Tianjin Xiali (79,714 units) and the SVW Santana 2000 (77,033 units).

ARA says the biggest gainers in the market so far this year are the Hyundai-Kia joint ventures in China. In the first ten months of the year, Hyundai-Kia passenger vehicle sales reached 85,578 units, against 15,243 units in the same period of 2002. Hyundai-Kia makes and sells the Sonata, Accent and Pride in China.

ARA also notes that FAW-Toyota - which started Chinese production of its first vehicle, the Vios, in October 2002, has gained ground this year, with sales of 40,434 units in the first ten months (compared with total sales of 2,042 units in the final three months of 2002).