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Auto Sales In China Jumped By Nearly 50 Percent In First Half

GM venture takes top spot.

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - Auto sales in China rose nearly 50 percent in the first half of this year, with General Motors taking the lead, according to industry data reported Monday.

The data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed total sales in the first half at 1.8 million units, up 46.9 percent from the same period of 2005.

Shanghai GM, General Motors Corp.'s joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., or SAIC, nudged aside former market leader FAW Volkswagen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Recent data have shown a continued revival in sales following a slump in early 2004. Vehicle sales rose 21 percent in 2005, up from 15 percent in 2004.

The report gave no sales figures for individual automakers. However, GM earlier reported that the its sales at Shanghai GM had jumped 49 percent year-on-year in the first half to 201,901, helped by the popularity of its best-selling sedan, the Excelle.

Next was Shanghai Volkswagen Co., Volkswagen AG's venture with SAIC, the Xinhua report said, followed by FAW Volkswagen, domestic maker Chery Automobile Co., Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., Tianjin FAW Toyota Automobile Co., Tianjin-FAW Xiali Automobile Co., local maker Geely Automobile Co., Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co. and Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile Co., the report said.

The top 10 automakers accounted for 1.27 million units, or about 70 percent of total sales, it said.

According to earlier released data, GM and its joint ventures sold 453,832 vehicles in China in the January-June period, up 47 percent from first-half 2005.

Volkswagen reported its sales jumped 30 percent in the first half, to 345,375 vehicles.

Honda Automobile Co.'s China unit said Monday that its auto sales rose 22 percent in the first half of this year to 143,519 units, from 117,751 units in January-June 2005.

Guangzhou Honda, a joint venture with Denway Motors Ltd., sold 123,512 autos in the first half, up 16 percent over a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said. Denway Motors is an investment holding company of state-owned Guangzhou Automobile Co., with shares traded in Hong Kong.

Honda's sales through its joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co. rose 73 percent to 20,007, the company said.