China overtakes the US as the world’s largest new car market
5 February 2009

China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s biggest car-market in 2009, according to estimates released by General Motors.

Based on January’s sales, China’s new car market is forecast to hit 10.7m units by the year’s end, versus 9.8m in the US.

If true, it will mark a further milestone in the meteoric growth of the Chinese new car market, which overtook Japan’s a couple of years ago.

With a population of at least one billion people, China has potentially four times more car buyers than either the US or EU, whose populations are around 240m each.

Today only 200m Chinese are ranked as ‘middle-class’, with a salary big enough to afford a new car, but that figure is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.

GM estimates that new car sales in January in China reached 790,000 units. GM has to estimate the figures because official numbers take a long time to be collated. The equivalent figure for the US was 668,000.

Julian Rendell

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