BEIJING, July 9 -- China's automobile output and sales both exceeded 11 million units in the first half of 2014, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) on Wednesday.
Auto production rose 9.6 percent from a year ago to 11.78 million units from January to June, accelerating from 9.4 percent growth during the January-May period.
However, sales of vehicles increased only 8.4 percent year on year to 11.68 million units, slowing further from an increase of 9 percent in the first five months, according to CAAM.
The economic slowdown weighed heavily on growth in both auto output and sales during the first half, compared with 12.8 percent growth in output and 12.3 percent growth in sales in the same period of last year.
In June alone, carmakers produced 1.86 million vehicles, down 6 percent from May, while car sales went down 3.4 percent from the previous month to 1.85 million units.
Dong Yang, secretary-general of CAAM, said even though the association maintains full-year projections of between 8 percent and 10 percent growth, the lower end looks more likely.
CAAM data is calculated at the wholesale level; retail figures might be even worse. The China Automobile Dealers Association said earlier this month that dealers' inventories have climbed to their highest level in nearly a year.
Output of commercial vehicles dipped 0.6 percent year on year, while sales of commercial vehicles fell 3.2 percent.
A total of 9.6 million passenger cars were sold in the first six months, up 12.1 percent from a year earlier.
China's domestic auto brands recorded their lowest market share since 2009, accounting for 37.7 percent of the entire market, down 3.5 percentage points from a year ago.
Of foreign vehicles, German brands continued to be the most popular, with a market share of 21 percent. Japanese and U.S. brands took another 15 percent and 13 percent.
New energy vehicles -- pure electric and hybrid electric cars -- outperformed their peers in the first half, registering a 2-fold growth year on year both in output and wholesale sales to reach 20,692 units and 20,477 units, respectively.
"The new energy cars are becoming better and society is paying more attention," Dong said, adding that he expects rapid growth in coming years.
China has remained the world's largest auto market and producer for five consecutive years, with production and sales both exceeding 20 million units for the first time in 2013.