PEKING (dpa-AFX) - The Chinese car market grew slightly more slowly in March than recently expected. Car deliveries rose by six percent year-on-year to just under 1.7 million vehicles, the China Passenger Car Association (PCA) announced on Tuesday on the basis of final data in Beijing. Previously, the estimate based on preliminary figures was an increase of six percent. The decisive factor was the almost 30 percent increase in sales of electric cars (NEV - new energy vehicles). The PCA association recently attributed this to high price discounts. The Chinese authorities also want to further boost car sales.

For example, Chinese car buyers are to be kept happy by laxer borrowing regulations. The central bank of the People's Republic is therefore allowing the upper limit for loans for private car purchases to be set by the lenders themselves. Previously, an upper limit of 85 percent applied to the price of electric cars and hybrid drives and 80 percent for petrol and diesel vehicles. The previous rules remain in place for commercial vehicles and used cars. The measures are intended to encourage sales and contribute to the replacement of old cars, according to reports.

As usual, the first two months of the year were mixed on the car market in the People's Republic. January saw a large plus, while February saw a large minus. This is because the Chinese New Year fell in February this year and not in the first month of the year. During the New Year celebrations, public life in the country largely comes to a standstill for around a week.

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/ngu/nas