What's the biggest auto sales year ever? Easy: the 17.4 million new light vehicles sold in the United States in 2000.
But now that demand has picked up in China, that record almost certainly will be under assault next year.
China's vehicle sales may rise 25 percent to 17 million this year, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Oct. 11, citing the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Kevin Wale, president of General Motors' China operations, told reporters last week he expects 19 million sales in 2011. Last year about 13.5 million vehicles were sold in the country, as China overtook the United States to become the world's largest auto market.
J.D. Power and Associates also sees a big 2011 in China, recently projecting 2011 sales of 18.3 million light vehicles.
China analysts have become more optimistic in recent weeks as sales recover from a slowdown in spring and summer. To spur demand, the Chinese government is offering consumers a $450 sales incentive to buy small cars.