Monday, January 11, 2010
China supplanted the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market after its 2009 vehicle sales jumped 46 percent, ending more than a century of American dominance that started with the Ford Model T.
The nation’s sales of passenger cars, buses and trucks rose to 13.6 million, the fastest pace in at least 10 years, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. By contrast, U.S. auto sales slumped 21 percent to 10.4 million, the fewest since 1982, according to Autodata Corp.
China’s vehicle sales have surged since 1999 as economic growth averaging more than 9 percent per year helping automakers General Motors and Volkswagen compensate for slumping demand in the U.S. and Europe. The market will likely remain the world’s largest, even as sales slow this year on a reduction in tax cuts, according to Booz & Co.
China’s vehicle ownership climbed to 51 million by the end of 2008 from 1 million in 1977. Per capital disposable income for Chinese households increased 46-fold in nominal terms during the period, also making the country the world’s biggest markets for products such as cell phones, beer and microwave ovens.