China vehicle production in January surged 51.9% compared with year-ago to 1,964,463 units, the highest on record for the month.

January’s output climbed 10.1% from December’s total builds, marking the third consecutive month-over-month increase.

Light-vehicle production jumped 53.8% to 1,870,543 units, with cars and light trucks posting increases of 54.4% and 52.8%, respectively. Bus output rose 41.0% and medium/heavy truck builds improved 20.0% in January, the sector’s first year-over-year increase since February 2012.

The spike in production resulted largely from the timing of the Chinese New Year. Because the New Year fell in February, there were more working days in January than a year ago, when the celebration occurred during that month.

New Longma, a truck and bus manufacturer, did not benefit from the extra working days in January. It showed the steepest year-on-year decline, with output down 82.4%. A yearlong project to raise annual production to 150,000 units likely contributed to the slump.

North Benz production tumbled 71.2% in January, its largest drop since October.

Shanghai GM was China’s top vehicle producer in January with 153,653 units, dropping SAIC-GM-Wuling to second place. Shanghai VW rounded out the top three with 143,391.

Shanghai GM’s Buick Excelle ranked first among models in January, a position it last held in April 2006. With 46,741 units built, the compact car currently held a 2.4% share of production. SAIC-GM-Wuling’s Zhiguang followed, with 2.3% of the country’s output.

Production of the all-new Chang’an Eu-love began in January with 63 builds. The cross/utility vehicle is being built at Chang’an’s Nanjing factory, and is now on sale.

hrowe@wardsauto.com