BEIJING (Reuters) - Auto sales in China, the world's biggest auto market, surged 365% in February over the same month a year earlier for their 11th month of gains, as the country leads the global industry's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales reached 1.46 million vehicles in February, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.
A year ago, China's auto sales were hit hard by nationwide travel curbs over the pandemic.
But the market started to bounce back in the second quarter, along with the rest of the economy, as the coronavirus was largely brought under control.
Automakers, including Toyota and Geely, reported triple-digit sales growth last month.
Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including battery-powered electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, increased 585% in February to 110,000 units.
NEV makers, such as homegrown Nio Inc and Xpeng Inc, as well as foreign groups, such as Tesla Inc, are expanding manufacturing capacity in China as it promotes greener vehicles to cut air pollution.
CAAM expects vehicle sales to rise by about 4% this year, but has warned that a shortage of certain auto chips may start to hit production at some Chinese firms at the beginning of the year.
But the reduced chip supplies that forced global automakers, from Volkswagen AG to General Motors Co, to shut assembly lines, will ease in China in the second quarter thanks to industry coordination and government help, Chen Shihua, a senior CAAM official, told an online news conference.
(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Lincoln Feast)