By on May 4, 2010

China’s ravenous appetite for new cars shows no signs of restraint. The Chinese news agency Xinhua quotes the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATRC), which says that sales of domestically made vehicles hit 1.39 million in April, up 40 percent from the same period last year.

The number excludes exports and imports, but in the grand scheme of things, they are insignificant. CATRC is a relatively unknown entity in China, official word usually comes from the China Association of Auto Manufactures (CAAM) and is not expected for a few days.

Experts had expected the growth rate to settle into the 15 to 25 percent range, as we are comparing to a higher and base in the previous year. The April number is up 9.8 percent from a very strong March.

The CATRC numbers are being confirmed by our Chinese sales oracle: GM China announced that their April sales jumped 50 percent, setting another sales record. The Chinese total vehicle market usually comes in a few points below GM China. We would not be surprised if the CAAM will announce April numbers in the 45 percent neighborhood.

The CATRC expects “auto sales to be good in May, driven by consumers’ increased enthusiasm for car-buying, auto makers’ promotional offers and the debut of dozens of new models at the Beijing Auto Show,” said CATRC director Zhao Hang.

Peak oilers, take note: SUVs sell better in China than Hybrids. Gasgoo reports that Beijing dealers of Toyota and Honda vehicles don’t have enough SUVs to meet demand, while hybrid models can only be moved at steep discounts.

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