September 11, 2017 / 9:00 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-China's vehicle sales rise for third straight month -industry body

* Year-to-date growth at 4.3 pct vs CAAM’s 5 pct FY view

* August growth spurred by passenger cars, truck surge

* NEV’s up 76 pct; Jan-Aug total almost half of CAAM’s FY view (Adds comments from CAAM and analysts, further sales details)

By Stella Qiu and Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING, Sept 11 (Reuters) - China’s vehicle sales rose for the third consecutive month in August, as “solid” demand for passenger cars and a surge in demand for trucks sustained a rebound in the world’s biggest auto market, an industry body said on Monday.

Overall sales reached 2.19 million vehicles in August, 5.3 percent more than in the same month a year earlier, showed data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). That took year-to-date growth to 17.5 million, up 4.3 percent.

The total is just short of CAAM’s full-year forecast of 5 percent, set in January when it blamed the scaling back of a tax incentive for small-engine vehicles as well as economic pressure for pulling growth down from 2016’s 13.7 percent.

Nevertheless, sales in recent months have been relatively strong - growing 6.2 percent in July and 4.5 in June - due to overall economic strength as well as increased incentives, market watchers said.

“China’s consumer economy is still on an upswing,” said James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific head of consultancy IHS Markit Automotive. There is plenty of demand for personal cars in lower-tier cities such as those inland, even though growth in places such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou has slowed.

Sales fell 0.1 percent in May and 2.2 percent in April.

August’s growth was driven by “solid demand” for passenger cars and increased commercial vehicle sales, a CAAM official said at a briefing on the data on Monday.

Changes in environment policy also spurred demand for trucks, the official said. Truck sales grew 15.2 percent in August, and 21.6 percent over January-August.

Sales of so-called new-energy vehicles (NEVs) – all-electric battery vehicles as well as plug-in petrol-electric hybrids – surged 76.3 percent in August, taking the year-to-date total to almost half of CAAM’s full-year forecast of 700,000 NEVs.

CAAM Vice Secretary General Shi Jianhua on Monday said he expected the government to unveil compulsory sales quotas for electric vehicles “this week”. (Reporting by Stella Qiu and Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Christopher Cushing)

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