Beijing — China surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest auto market for the first half of 2009 after June sales soared 36.5 percent from a year earlier, according to data reported Thursday.
China’s vehicle sales in June rose to 1.14 million, the second-highest month to date after April’s 1.15 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. Passenger car sales hit a monthly record of 872,900 units.
Total sales for the first half of the year rose to 6.1 million, up 17.7 percent from a year earlier, the industry group said. That outpaced the United States, where passenger car sales in the same period plunged to 4.8 million amid an economic slump.
China’s auto sales weakened in late 2008 as the global financial crisis hit but rebounded after Beijing launched a stimulus package with sales tax cuts, subsidies to trade in older cars and other incentives.