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AUTO SALES IN CHINA OFF TO STRONG START FOR 2013

 Wholesale deliveries of passenger and commercial vehicles in China climbed 15% in the first two months of 2013 despite a 14% year-over-year decline in February, according to the China Assn. of Automobile Manufacturers.CAAM considers the January-February total a better gauge of auto demand in early 2013.

 Wholesale deliveries of passenger and commercial vehicles in China climbed 15% in the first two months of 2013 despite a 14% year-over-year decline in February, according to the China Assn. of Automobile Manufacturers.

CAAM considers the January-February total a better gauge of auto demand in early 2013. The weeklong Lunar New Year holiday—which fell in January 2012 but in February this year—distorted results for the individual months.

China’s motor vehicle volume soared 46% in January to an all-time high of 2.03 million units. But it fell to 1.35 million units in February from 1.56 million a year earlier. Last month’s decline includes an 8% slide in passenger-vehicle demand to 1.11 million units.

In the first two months of 2013, the country’s deliveries of cars, MPVs and SUVs jumped 20% to 2.84 million vehicles. Commercial vehicle sales shrank 5% to 551,700 units.

January through February, group deliveries in China in increased at General Motors (+8% to 525,800 vehicles) and Ford (+46% to 105,200 units) in China. Volkswagen brand volume surged 31% to 392,300 vehicles.

Japan’s major carmakers, which are still recovering from China’s wave of anti-Japan sentiment last autumn, posted a collective 17% decline in the first two months of 2013.

CAAM notes that January and February marked China’s strongest auto sales start since 2010. But the group says that’s not enough to merit an upward revision to its full-year forecast that motor vehicle deliveries will grow 7% to a record 20.65 million units.