China's automobiles sales grew for the first time since 2018 last year, a trade association said on Tuesday, as demand for new energy vehicles continues to rise.
The jump comes as the world's biggest polluter targets ambitious goals for the widespread adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles, aiming to have a majority of cars powered with clean energy by 2035.
Around 20 million new vehicles across categories were sold in 2021, a rise of 4.4 percent on-year, rebounding after auto sales fell in 2018 and 2019, according to figures from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).
In 2020, auto sales also took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year's uptick came as nearly three million new-energy vehicles -- including electric and hybrid models -- were sold in the world's biggest car market, accounting for a 169 percent surge.
US electric vehicle maker Tesla in particular sold a record 70,847 cars in December.
The CPCA targets sales of new energy passenger cars to hit 5.5 million in 2022, up from earlier expectations of 4.8 million units.
Alongside Tesla, many Chinese challengers including BYD, Nio and XPeng are also competing in this sector.
The Chinese market has been bolstered by purchase subsidies but authorities have said these are set to end by late December.