China's vehicle sales jumped 46.4 per cent in January from a year earlier, the strongest pace of growth in almost three years largely due to a low base effect from last year, and the pace is expected to moderate from this month.
The week-long Spring Festival holiday, when dealers shorten working hours, fell in January last year but will occur in February this year.
Given the difference in the timing, industry experts said it was necessary to compare the combined January-February data to gauge actual demand.
"The first two months' data are usually skewed because of the holiday," said Cui Dongshu, the deputy secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association (Caam).
A total of 2 million passenger cars, trucks and buses were sold in China last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Thursday.
That compared with 1.81m vehicles in December, which had been a gain of 7.1 per cent from a year earlier.
The January growth rate was the fastest since April 2010's 34.4 per cent increase.
Caam said last month it forecast 2013 sales to be around 20.7m, up 7 per cent year-on-year.
Vehicle sales rose a relatively lacklustre 4.3 per cent in 2012, weighed down by sluggish sales by Japanese car makers, which were hit by anti-Japan protests that erupted in mid-September following a territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing.
Nissan, Honda and Toyota all reported double-digit growth in January sales, the first gain since the outbreak of the diplomatic dispute.
Encouraged by the sales recovery, which was also partly due to a low base effect from last year, Nissan and Honda have started to bring back production capacity at plants.