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China foreign auto sales go up but domestic brands lag

BEIJING--Sales in the world's biggest auto market accelerated in May but domestic Chinese brands lagged and their market share shrank, an industry group reported Tuesday.

Sales of passenger vehicles rose 13.9 percent to 1.6 million, according to an industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Sales for January-May were up 11.1 percent to 8.1 million vehicles.

Total vehicle sales, including buses and trucks, rose 8.5 percent in May to 1.9 million.

Auto sales growth in China has cooled steadily since peaking above 40 percent in 2009. This year's sales are forecast to grow by 8 to 10 percent.

Passenger vehicle sales by Chinese brands lagged the overall market, rising 5.4 percent, according to CAAM. Their market share declined 2.9 percentage points from a year earlier to 36.5 percent.

Domestic brands have struggled to keep up with bigger, richer global rivals. Industry analysts say their quality is improving and they expect sales gains with the planned launch this year of new models by a number of Chinese automakers.

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