SHANGHAI -- Car production in China accelerated 83.4 percent on year to 166,900 in April, 10,000 more than in March despite an outbreak of the SARS virus, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Output leapt 110 percent in the first four months of 2003 from a year ago to 565,400, the State Statistical Bureau said in a statement which did not give a breakdown of figures by manufacturer.
"Car production was supported strongly by private car purchases," the bureau said. "Not only did car sales not go down in April under the negative impact of SARS, they went up compared with March."
Many car makers said sales rose in April because people wanted to avoid public transport during the outbreak of deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
China admitted in April it had covered up the extent of the spread of SARS, which has infected more than 5,000 people and killed more than 260. That same month, car sales in Beijing rose 21 percent to 34,000, state media have reported.
Among the rosy figures reported by some car makers, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp said April nationwide sales jumped 33 percent on year to 46,800. Guangzhou Honda Automotive Co said it sold 17,250 cars, more than double a year ago.
But analysts say if SARS is not controlled soon, jittery Chinese may opt to save more instead of buying big-ticket items.