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China To Become World's Third Biggest Vehicle Maker In 2005

China, currently the world's fourth largest auto market, is expected to produce more than six million cars, trucks and buses in 2005, up 2 % from last year, data showed Monday. The rise in production would catapult it ahead of Germany and make it the world's third biggest vehicle manufacturer after the U.S. and Japan, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on its website.

China's auto market cooled last year but sales were still up 15.5% to 5.07 million vehicles after a gain of 34.2% in 2003. Passenger car sales, the hottest market segment, rose 15.17% to 2.33 million units in 2004 but were well below the blistering 75. % pace seen in 2003.

The slowdown was in part due to government-imposed loan restrictions meant to reduce the pace of frantic spending on new plant and investment with apparently little thought for potential market demand.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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