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Economy

China auto market maintains momentum ahead of tax break's end

Chinese auto sales remain in high gear.

GUANGZHOU/BEIJING -- Chinese sales of new automobiles marked a fifth straight month of double-digit growth in October as a small-car tax break ending soon propped up demand.

Passenger and commercial vehicles rose 18.7% on the year to 2,649,900 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday. The combined tally is based on shipments from factories and includes exports.

With the tax break seen winding down this year, automakers raced to capture the stronger demand now.

Passenger vehicle sales jumped 20.3% to 2,344,100 units, while sales of commercial vehicles rose 7.4% to 305,800 units.

Germany's Volkswagen showed robust momentum. Joint venture Shanghai Volkswagen, which sells the Polo compact, enjoyed growth of 21.9% -- the sharpest among top market players. Sales shot up 20.2% at fellow Chinese joint venture FAW-Volkswagen Automotive, which offers the Golf compact.

Growth by General Motors, last year's top-selling automaker in China, slowed to just 5.7%. And sales of South Korea's Hyundai Motor, which ranked No. 3 here in 2015, edged up 2.2% in October -- down significantly from September's 19%.

Japanese automakers generally fared well. Honda Motor maintained its strong momentum with a 39.6% jump by focusing mainly on its strength in sport utility vehicles. Nissan Motor, the biggest Japanese automaker in China, logged growth of 16.1%. It moved more than 40,000 units of the Sylphy mainstay sedan.

Chinese automakers, whose brands were low-priced to begin with, also performed well by capitalizing on the tax benefit to capture robust demand. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group's sales soared 94.3%.

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