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China zooms to the top of auto industry

An agent talks to a customer in front of new minivans, made by Chinese First Automobile Works Group, at a dealership in Beijing.

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Speaking of oil consumption, China has has become a huge player in the auto industry. Today, the country announced its 10-millionth car has just rolled off the assembly line. From Shanghai, our very own Scott Tong has more.


Scott Tong: Before today, only Japan and the U.S. assembled 10 million vehicles in a single year. China did it in just over 9 months. By contrast, U.S. auto plants this year have cranked out just 4 million units.

China, in fact, is tops in two categories: world's top producer and consumer this year, thanks to government incentives. Those will end, just as Cash for Clunkers did.

But analyst Jerry Huang at CSM Worldwide doesn't see the China's car market breaking down.

Jerry Huang: Customers in mid-size cars or SUVs, they don't care about the government incentive or subsidy. So there are still plenty of customers in China which will buy their cars next year.

Top sellers in China are Hyundai, Nissan and Volkswagen, along with Chinese brand BYD. Huang says China's emerging consumers are just now trading up and replacing their first cars. Which gives rise to a brand new job description in China: the used-car salesman.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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