Beijing: China has surpassed automobile sales of Europe with a record sale of 14.68 million units last year.
Sales of passenger vehicles increased 6.8 percent, from the previous year to 14.68 million units, the China Passenger Car Association said.
In December alone, passenger vehicle sales jumped 8.6 percent year-on-year to 1.56 million units.
Passenger vehicle sales in Europe were placed 12.5 million units, 1.1 million fewer than a year earlier, state run China Daily reported Thursday.
The US registered the best sales growth since 2008, 13 percent year-on-year, but it still lagged just behind the Chinese mainland market after selling 14.5 million units.
China's vehicle market will continue to grow, the daily quoted analysts as saying.
The market could be as big as Europe and the US combined, Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of vehicle research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Rao Da, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said the market "would probably yield about 30 percent growth year-on-year in January," driven by an expected sales boom in the run-up to Spring Festival.
"Providing there are no more government curbs, the passenger vehicle market could grow 10 percent in 2013."
Jia Xinguang, a market analyst in Beijing, said he predicts 8 percent growth year-on-year in 2013, in what he described as "low but healthy development".
BMW said that its sales, including the Rolls-Royce and Mini brands, surged 40 percent from a year earlier to 326,444 units in 2012, backed by record monthly growth of 73 percent in December.
Volkswagen's premium brand Audi also reported a 29.6 percent year-on-year growth in 2012 to a record 405,838 vehicles.
Both of the German luxury brands see China as their largest market.
China also became Jaguar Land Rover's top market in 2012, as Tata's British premium brand delivered 73,347 imported vehicles to Chinese consumers, 74 percent more than in 2011.
US automaker Ford said its China sales performance boomed 21 percent from 2011 to a total of 626,616 vehicles last year, and General Motors local joint ventures managed to sell 2.85 million vehicles in 2012, representing an increase of 14.7 percent.
All Japanese automakers reported negative growth in China in 2012 due to ongoing spate between China and Japan over the disputed islands.
First Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013, 22:46