PEKING (dpa-AFX) - Significantly more cars were sold on the Chinese passenger car market in January than in the same month last year, which was dominated by the New Year celebrations. Passenger car deliveries rose by 58 percent to 2.04 million cars, according to preliminary figures released by the China Passenger Car Association (PCA) in Beijing on Wednesday. Last year, the Chinese New Year fell in January, this time it is in February. During the New Year celebrations, public life in the People's Republic largely comes to a standstill for around a week.

Compared to the previous month of December, however, deliveries in January fell by 13 percent. The boom in electric cars also slowed at the start of the year. According to preliminary figures released by the PCA last week, manufacturers delivered fewer electrified cars to dealers in January than in December. Before the end of the year, many manufacturers had tried to boost sales once again.

Price competition has intensified significantly on the Chinese market over the past year, particularly for electric cars. Chinese competitors are giving foreign manufacturers a hard time with discounts. Electric car manufacturer BYD, for example, stole the top spot in the People's Republic from decades-long market leader Volkswagen. In the fourth quarter, BYD even sold more pure electric cars worldwide than the previous top dog Tesla.

China is the largest car market in the world and as such is also the most important single market for the German manufacturers Volkswagen (including its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche), BMW and Mercedes-Benz./men/nas/jha/