New auto sales in China topped 20 million units for the first time in 2013, solidifying the countrys status as the worlds largest market. Sales of new passenger cars and commercial vehicles rose 13.9 percent from 2012 to 21.98 million units, the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported last month.
Steady and rapid growth of automobile sales has been responsible for much of the growth in Chinas lubricant demand. The country is now one of the worlds two largest lubricant markets, either just ahead or just behind the United States, according to different analysts.
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In 2013, automobile sales in China outpaced 2012 for every month except February, the association said. Cumulative sales for January through August were 7.7 percent higher in 2013, but the pace picked up in the final four months of the year, suggesting that the industry remains robust.
The growth of Chinas auto industry exceeded expectations, after 2013 began with projections of an increase in the range of 9 to 10 percent. Passenger car sales jumped 16 percent to 17.9 million units, while sales of commercial vehicles swelled 6 percent to 4 million units. Sales of sport utility vehicles, part of the passenger car category, climbed a whopping 47 percent to 3 million units.
Domestic brands continued losing market share. Sales of Chinese-branded passenger cars rose 11 percent to 7.2 million, but their share of the market fell 1.6 percent to 40.3 percent. German, Japanese, U.S, Korean and French brands accounted for 19 percent, 16 percent, 12 percent, 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of total passenger car sales. Japanese manufacturers were the only members of this group to lose market share.