Vehicle sales in China showed unexpectedly robust growth in September as Japanese producers continued to recover from anti-Japanese sentiment last year, which was tied to a territorial dispute between the two countries.
Vehicle sales were up 19.66 percent to 1.94 million, far above the increase of 10.3 percent in August, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported on Friday.
The boom last month brought January-September sales growth to 12.7 percent, surpassing CAAM's full-year forecast of 7 percent issued earlier this year.
"The stable uptrend in recent months made us optimistic enough to say that China's total vehicle sales are likely to surge by 12 percent to 21.5 million units this year," said Rao Da, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.
CAAM attributed the surge to strong momentum in the passenger car segment. Another factor was an increase in deliveries in the commercial vehicle segment.
In September, passenger vehicle sales in China gained 21.1 percent year-on-year to 1.59 million units.
Total deliveries in the first nine months increased by 14 percent to 12.85 million units.
Japanese automakers all reported huge sales surges last month, with Honda Motor Co leading the list with a gain of 118 percent, followed by Nissan Motor Co's 83.4 percent, Toyota Motor Co's 63 percent and Mazda Motor Corp's 34.4 percent.
Analysts said that the Japanese companies' sales boom reflected the extremely low base of comparison in September 2012, when a dispute over Japan's illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea kept local consumers away from their showrooms.
CAAM statistics show that in September 2012, Japanese producers' combined sales dived 29.5 percent from August and 40.8 percent from a year earlier.
In addition to Japanese automakers, German and US automakers all said that strong market demand spurred September sales.
General Motors Co, the largest foreign automaker in China, said that its September sales hit a new record, as deliveries increased 13.7 percent to 277,647 units. During the first nine months of 2013, GM's sales in China increased 11.1 percent to a record 2.31 million units.
The company said that its Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling manufacturing joint ventures, and all of their brands, had a record month in September.
Ford Motor Co saw its September sales in China boom 61 percent to 96,111 units. The total for the first three quarters increased 51 percent to 647,849 units.
Volkswagen Group China said on Friday that, with its two Chinese joint ventures, it delivered 2.36 million vehicles to local customers from January to September, representing 18 percent year-on-year growth.
September sales reached 301,900 units with 15.9 percent annual growth.
The German company attributed the results to its fuel-efficient products with innovative technologies that meet the needs and demand of local customers in all segments.
"Building on this good result, we continue to focus on customer satisfaction, which is the center of further sustainable development," said Jochem Heizmann, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen China.