China's Auto Sales Surpass the U.S.

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It's no breaking news that the U.S. auto industry hasn't had the best couple of months.  This January auto sales hit their lowest level in 26 years, dropping 37 percent to selling only about 650,000 vehicles.  But that doesn't mean every nation is having a severe slump in car sales.

While official numbers won't be out until next week, many estimate that 790,000 cars were sold in China during the same month, indicating the first time in history that the number of car sales in China topped those in the U.S.

This month's results weren't just a fluke, however.  Mike DiGiovanni, the executive director of General Motors predicts that China's auto sales will be about 10.7 million, versus just 9.8 million within the U.S.

China's growing auto market presents a strong opportunity for struggling U.S. automakers like GM, which sold 1.09 million vehicles last year in China, and expects to see strong China sales next year, even in the struggling economy.  

With a population topping 1.3 billion, and millions of aspiring car owners, there's huge potential to see growing car sales in China.  The bailout package proposed in late 2008 has billions allocated to infrastructure development, including constructing many roads, potentially expanding the number of citizens who would benefit from car ownership.  

The government has also invested about $1.5 billion dollars into improving car technology, in order to make vehicles more fuel efficient, and is now providing tax incentives to those who plan to purchase vehicles.

At the same time, a slowing economy, excessive traffic in many major cities, and severe pollution concerns still deter many potential car owners.  

Despite these issues, the potential for future automotive sales in China remains very bright in the long term, as millions look forward to owning their own car.  

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