By Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh

BEIJING, Sept 10 (Reuters)China’s auto sales in August rose 11.6% from a year earlier, the fifth consecutive month of gain, as the world’s biggest vehicle market comes off lows hit during the coronavirus lockdown.

Sales rose to 2.19 million vehicles last month, showed data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Overall sales are still down 9.7% for the first eight months of the year at 14.55 million vehicles.

New energy vehicle (NEV) sales in China grew 25.8% on year to 109,000 units in August, a promising sign for global automakers that have invested heavily in electric vehicles in the market.

CAAM expects NEV sales of 1.1 million vehicles this year, down around 11% from last year. NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Sales of trucks and other commercial vehicles, which constitute around a quarter of the market, surged 41.6%, driven by government investment in infrastructure and as buyers upgraded to new vehicles to comply with tough emissions rules.

Sales of passenger vehicles rose 6%.

Automakers that have reported sales growth in August include Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd 0175.HK and Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T. General Motors Co’s GM.N local ventures, however, saw their sales slide last month.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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