* Jan vehicle sales strong on low 2012 base
* Growth rate likely to slow in Feb
* Major Japanese carmakers post growth in Jan
By Wan Xu and Jonathan Standing
BEIJING, Feb 7 China's vehicle sales jumped 46.4
percent in January from a year earlier, the strongest pace of
growth in almost three years largely due to a low base effect
from last year, and the pace is expected to moderate from this
The week-long Spring Festival holiday, when dealers shorten
working hours, fell in January last year but will occur in
February in 2013.
Given the difference in the timing, industry experts said it
was necessary to compare the combined January-February data to
gauge actual demand.
"The first two months' data are usually skewed because of
the holiday," said Cui Dongshu, deputy secretary-general of the
China Passenger Car Association.
A total of 2 million passenger cars, trucks and buses were
sold in China last month, the China Association of Automobile
Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Thursday.
That compared with 1.81 million vehicles in December, which
had been a gain of 7.1 percent from a year earlier.
The January growth rate was the fastest since April 2010's
34.4 percent increase.
CAAM said last month it forecast 2013 sales to be around
20.7 million, up 7 percent year-on-year.
Vehicle sales rose a relatively lacklustre 4.3 percent in
2012, weighed down by sluggish sales by Japanese carmakers,
which were hit by anti-Japan protests that erupted in
mid-September following a territorial row between Tokyo and
Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Honda Motor Co and
Toyota Motor Corp all reported double-digit growth in
January sales, the first gain since the outbreak of the
Encouraged by the sales recovery, which was also partly due
to a low base effect from last year, Nissan and Honda have
started to bring back production capacity at plants.