Chinese Auto Sales Reach 1.14 Million

BEIJING (AP) -- China's auto sales surged 82 percent in August to 1.14 million units, but monthly sales dropped to second place behind the United States after leading for much of the year, data showed Tuesday.

Total sales for the first eight months of 2009 rose to 8.33 million units, up nearly 30 percent from a year earlier, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the state-sanctioned China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Global automakers are looking to China to drive revenues amid sluggish demand elsewhere.

August was the sixth month that China's auto sales, boosted by tax cuts and subsidies as part of Beijing's stimulus, exceeded 1.1 million units.

China, with 1.3 billion people, has long been expected to overtake the United States as the biggest vehicle market. But the U.S. economic slump hastened that shift by depressing American sales while China surged ahead.

U.S. sales got a temporary boost to 1.3 million units in August from Washington's "Cash for Clunkers" subsidies for trading in older cars. But industry analysts say that surge could quickly subside after subsidies end.

China still leads in total 2009 sales, with the United States in second place with 7.1 million units sold.

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