China auto sales rise but local brands weaken

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BEIJING (AP) — China's auto sales rose 11.3 percent in the first two months of the year but local brands suffered a decline in a sign of intense competition in the world's biggest auto market.

An industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said Monday that sales in the first two months of the year totaled 3.1 million vehicles.

The group said sales by China's domestic auto brands, however, declined by 1 percent from a year earlier to 1.2 million vehicles.

Sales have been squeezed by China's economic slowdown and curbs on ownership imposed in some cities in response to smog and traffic.

Global automakers are looking to China to drive sales growth and are spending heavily to develop models for Chinese tastes. That is squeezing fledgling domestic brands.

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