WRAPUP 1-China Apr car sales still solid, India best in decade

* Car sales in China, India remain strong in April

* China growth seen to be slower but solid in coming months

* China car sales seen up 20 percent for 2010

* Rising concern in India over high raw material costs

By Fang Yan and Janaki Krishnan

SHANGHAI/NEW DELHI, May 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Car sales in China
and India, the world’s two fastest growing major markets showed
solid growth in April as government incentives and strong
economic expansion continued to pull buyers into showrooms.

In China, which eclipsed the United States as the world’s
biggest auto market last year, passenger car sales in April
rose 33.2 percent from a year earlier, slowing from a 63.2
percent jump in March when a much lower year-ago base of
comparison inflated the growth rate.

“Slower growth is inevitable as it’s impossible for
automakers to replicate the 70 percent-plus monthly growth seen
in the latter part of 2009. But the April figure is still
pretty solid and much better than many had anticipated,” said
Sheng Ye, associate research director at industry consultancy
Ipsos’ Greater China region.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For graphic on China sales: http://link.reuters.com/run43k
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Car sales in India posted their strongest April in at least
a decade, jumping an annual 39.5 percent, showing consumer
demand in one of the world’s fastest growing markets remained
robust despite a rise in prices. [ID:nSGE64906I]

“The outlook for this year looks good — incomes are
rising, there is optimism about the economy, people are more
secure about their jobs and there is a lot of choice in terms
of models available,” said Preet Mohan Singh, executive
director of Avendus Capital.

By comparison, U.S. sales rose by a fifth in April, while
UK sales rose 11.5 percent and German sales fell almost a third
in the same month following the removal of state stimulus
measures.

CHINA GROWTH FORECASTS RISING

China has been a major bright spot for global automakers
amid a sharp industry downturn, propelled by government
incentives to boost consumption along with a near $600 billion
economic stimulus plan.

From January to April, car sales in the country jumped 63.6
percent to 4.63 million units, following a 76.3 percent gain in
the first quarter, data provided by the official China
Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed on Monday.

Analysts and auto executives had previously predicted
full-year 2010 growth in car sales of 10-15 percent, but many
have revised their forecast upward recently. [ID:nTOE63L06H]

Chery Automobile, known for one of the country’s
best-selling compact car QQ, expects to sell 700,000 units this
year, up 40 percent from 2009, twice as fast as the market
growth, its spokesman Jin Yibo recently told Reuters.

“Government incentives have lowered the bar for car
ownership in the past years. There is still a lot of growth
potential in smaller cities and rural areas,” Jin said.

China, where car sales sped past 10 million units for the
first time last year, also remains a safe haven for giants such
as General Motors [GM.UL], Ford Motor (F.N: ) and Toyota Motor
(7203.T: ) which are gradually climbing out of a global
recession.

Strong automobile demand may even prompt the Chinese
government to scrap the sales tax incentives next year,
although the subsidies for auto buyers in rural areas will
remain intact, Fu Yuwu, executive vice president and secretary
general of Society of Automotive Engineers of China, told
Reuters.

INDIA SALES AT MULTI-YEAR HIGH

Domestic car sales in India were 143,976 in April, up from
103,227 in the same month last year, SIAM data showed, led by
Maruti Suzuki (MRTI.BO: ) which sold 80,034 units.

Vishnu Mathur, newly appointed director general of the
Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), said sales
were likely to be sustained in a rapidly growing economy with
easy availability of finance and improved consumer sentiment.

Buyers are usually subdued in April after bunched purchases
at the close of the financial year in March to take advantage
of tax breaks on depreciation.

But concerns for the industry are rising costs of raw
materials such as pig iron and steel, and price increases to
account for new emission standards.
Stock Today

(Additional reporting by Jacqueline Wong in SHANGHAI; Editing
by Lincoln Feast)

WRAPUP 1-China Apr car sales still solid, India best in decade