Chinese auto sales hit slowest rise in six months image

China’s passenger-car sales recorded the slowest growth pace in the past six months, due to credit restrictions and the cancelling of government incentives.

In November, wholesale deliveries rose 0.3 percent to 1.34 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers today announced. It is the slowest pace since May, when sales dropped 0.1 percent to 1.04 million, and slightly below the 0.5 percent average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Vehicle sales in China have slowed from 2010’s record 32-percent increase due to inflation, higher interest rates and the end of government incentives. According to CAAM, 2011 deliveries may post the smallest increase in 13 years. “Inflation and gasoline prices are high and the outlook is still uncertain. This has reduced consumers’ will to purchase,” Yale Zhang, managing director at industry consultant Autoforesight Shanghai Co. was quoted by Bloomberg.

China’s auto manufacturers association estimates 2011 deliveries will rise between 3 percent and 5 percent, way below the 32 percent increase of 2010. If this happens, it will be the first time the Chinese market grows at a slower pace that U.S. car sales since 1998, when the association started monitoring sales.