China produced 1,674,181 vehicles in August, surging 11.7% from like-2012, the largest year-on-year increase in three months. This gain may be a positive sign for the country’s sluggish economy.

Car output rose 7.8% in the month to 941,301 units, accounting for 56.1% of China’s total builds. This was the largest share for the sector since January’s 56.3%. Both light and medium/heavy trucks rose as well in August, with light trucks climbing 17.0% to 652,377 units and medium/heavy trucks jumping 27.8% from year-ago to 70,011. Bus output tumbled 15.3% to 13,500 units, the second straight year-over-year decline for the sector.

Production of the all-new Arrizo 7 began in August with 1,664 builds. Formerly known as the Chery A4, the sedan will sell at prices between RMB78,900 ($12,890) and RMB126,900 ($20,732) and will compete with the Volkswagen Jetta. Chery plans to sell about 20,000 units before the end of the year.

FAW-Volkswagen’s Jetta led August output for the second straight month with 46,942 units, the highest monthly volume ever for the model, accounting for 2.8% of industry output. Shanghai Volkswagen’s Lavida placed second with 42,188, or 2.5% of total builds.

Shanghai Volkswagen was the top manufacturer in August for the first time since February. The automaker produced 154,840 vehicles, or 9.2% of China’s output. FAW-VW fell short of the top spot with 140,173 units and Shanghai GM placed third with 123,333.

China’s automakers produced 14,012,211 vehicles through August, up 12.4%, or 1.5 million units, from like-2012.       

hrowe@wardsauto.com