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Business

China's new-auto sales eke out small gain in August

Major players face headwind, but Japanese automakers thrive

Great Wall Motor offers the Haval SUV.

GUANGZHOU -- New-auto sales in China rose 5.3% on the year in August to 2,186,000 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Monday.

The sales volume rose for a third straight month, but the August growth rate represented a rather muted increase for the world's biggest auto market. Sales of commercial vehicles grew 13% to 310,000 units. But passenger vehicles, which account for over 80% of the auto sales in China, climbed only 4% to 1.87 million units.

Hyundai Motor suffered a 39% plunge in sales as the Chinese public boycotts South Korean products in response to that country's deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. American automaker Ford Motor also recorded a 1% decline.

Many major automakers, big players in particular, are struggling to buoy sales. Volkswagen's local joint venture, SAIC Volkswagen Automotive, produced a limited sales gain of just 3%. Great Wall Motor, a major Chinese automaker, saw sales edge up 0.8%.

China's government continues to offer tax breaks on compact passenger vehicles, but the incentive's appeal to consumers has apparently waned. An official at a domestic brand car dealership in Guangdong Province said that in practical terms the benefit has faded, noting that more discounts are being given to sell greater volumes.

Against this general market trend, Japanese contenders fared well, thanks to many new releases. Honda Motor logged a 21% sales increase, while Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor enjoyed gains of 18% and 13%, respectively.

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