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Vehicle output in the country totaled 1.583 million units during the month, while sales reached 1.516 million units, representing month-on-month decreases of 5.4% and 13.6% respectively, according to CAAM data released on Friday August 9.

“Automakers usually conduct facility maintenance during late July and mid-August, so the decline in output and sales was within expectation,” CAAM official Chen Shihua said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

But the industry continues to see growth as July’s output and sales are still up by 10.2% and 9.9% respectively year-on-year, Chen said.

During January-July, China’s vehicle output totalled 12.335 million units, up 12.5% year-on-year while sales were 12.299 million units, up 12% year-on-year.

The figures are much higher than the 7% growth rate forecast for 2013 that CAAM made at the beginning of the year and could continue to lend support to upstream industries including steel, a Shanghai-based steel analyst said.

In anticipation of strong demand from the country’s auto sector, steelmakers at home and abroad are keen to better serve automakers, setting up specialized auto steel plant or coil centers.

China’s Anshan Iron & Steel held a ground breaking ceremony on August 6 for its new hot-dip galvanizing line in Chongqing city, a major automotive production hub where automakers including state-owned Chongqing Chang’An and joint ventures Chang’An Ford and Chang’An Mazda are located.

Prior to that, Wuhan Iron & Steel, the country’s second-largest auto sheet producer announced on July 31 that it had completed the takeover of ThyssenKrupp’s tailor welded blanks business, in a bid to enhance its competitiveness in global auto steel market with advanced technology.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal is also targeting China’s fast growing auto market through the set up of a joint venture with central China’s Valin Steel, as Steel First previously reported.