Auto sales in China picked up pace in September from the previous month, the semi-official industry group China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Tuesday.

Total sales in China, the world's biggest auto market by number of units, rose 16.9 percent in September from a year earlier to 1.56 million units, the association said on its website.

That compares with a year-on-year increase of 16.1 percent in August and 14.4 percent in July, the association said.

After growing by more than 20 percent in the first half, sales were expected to increase at a steadier pace in the third quarter, the statement said.

Passenger vehicle sales rose 19.3 percent in September from a year ago to 1.21 million units, it said.

China's auto sales for 2009 hit 13.64 million units as the nation took over the title of the world's top auto market from the United States.

After last year's breakneck growth, sales slowed in recent months, partially due to seasonal factors, but 2010 is still forecast to see 17 million units shifted - an increase of about 25 percent year on year.



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