PASSENGER car sales in China rose nearly 10 percent annually in April and the growth pace is expected to continue this month, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Around 1.81 million passenger vehicles were sold last month, up 9.6 percent year on year, data from the association showed. April’s growth rate easily beat the average growth rate of 4.5 percent from January to March.

Premium cars and new-energy vehicles drove the sales growth in April. Premium car sales jumped 17 percent year on year, said the association whose data didn’t reveal detailed figures.

Premium car brands all rose strongly last month in China. Mercedes-Benz sold 57,221 new cars, up 20.1 percent while Audi sold 52,411 vehicles, up 13.5 percent. BMW hasn’t released its sales figures for April.

The spotlight of the passenger car market was that sales of new-energy passenger cars propelled 150 percent year on year to 730,145 in April

Electric car sales surged 131.8 percent to 56,468 units in April from a year ago while sales of plug-in hybrids soared 243 percent annually to 16,677 units last month.

“The sales growth momentum in May is likely to continue from April. Passenger car sales will further grow steadily. We are expected to see a relatively high growth rate of car sales this month,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the association.

The higher number of 22 working days in May is set to fuel the sales pace, said Cui, adding that new models shown at the recent Beijing auto show “will also boost car sales in May.”

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