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By Lusha Zhang and Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING, Aug 11 (Reuters) - China’s overall vehicles sales grew 6.2 percent in July from a year earlier to 1.97 million vehicles, showing that the world’s largest auto market continues to rebound from the weakness it saw in April and May, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Friday.
In June, vehicle sales volume rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier. It was down 2.2 percent and 0.1 percent respectively in April and May.
In the first seven months of the year, sales grew 4.1 percent from the same period last year to 15.3 million vehicles, the association said at a briefing in Beijing.
Analysts and company officials attributed the relatively strong sales last month in part to higher incentive levels.
“We’re losing a bit of steam in basic demand, but incentives are giving the market some support,” said James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific chief of consultancy IHS Markit Automotive.
Still, individually some car brands tried their best to keep from relying on discounts and other incentives, which sap margins.
A senior Toyota sales executive who oversees both Toyota and Lexus brands noted that market fundamentals are still “sound” in smaller or lower-tier inland markets.
“We’re shifting our focus more and more on lower-tier, smaller markets, and that effort seems to be working for us,” said the executive, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.
Toyota’s sales in July rose 11.4 percent from a year earlier to 108,900 vehicles.
In January, CAAM predicted sales would rise 5 percent this year, slowing from 13.7 percent in 2016, citing the rollback of a tax incentive for small-engine cars and economic pressures.
Green cars saw brisk sales in China last month.
Sales of so-called new energy vehicles – all electric battery cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles – increased 55.2 percent in July from a year earlier to 56,000 vehicles. New-energy vehicles sales totalled 251,000 vehicles during the first seven months of 2017, up 21.5 percent from a year ago.
CAAM forecast sales of new-energy vehicles at about 700,000 vehicles this year. (Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing.; Editing by Sunil Nair)