China's auto sales growth hit a five-month high in May, driven by the popularity of SUVs, an industry group said Monday. Sales rose 11.3 percent over a year earlier to 1.8 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 9.8 percent to 2 million units.
The CAAM said SUV sales, whose explosive popularity has helped to buoy the industry, rose 36.3 percent to 627,000. China's auto sales growth cratered last year, jolting global brands that are looking to the world's most populous market to drive revenue. Sales revived after the government cut sales taxes, but longer-term growth is expected to moderate from the double-digit rates of recent years.
For the first five months of the year, auto sales rose 7.8 percent to 9.2 million units. SUV sales rose 45 percent to 3.2 million. Sales by Chinese brands rose 12.9 percent to 716,900. They have been clawing back market share from bigger global rivals on the explosive popularity of low-cost SUVs, the fastest-growing market segment.