Chinese new car sales decreased in April for the first time in more than two years.

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A total of 1.55 million new vehicles were sold in China last month, which was down 0.25 percent compared with April 2010. The monthly result was also a significant 15.12 percent below the previous month (March 2011).

The negative result has been blamed on a number of factors, with the effects of the Japanese earthquake and subsequent supply chain disruptions high among those.

Toyota production at all Chinese plants has been reduced to between 30 and 50 percent until the beginning of June, while Honda suspended production at a number of its plants for the first half of May.

Domestic issues also played a significant role in the softened sales.

Beijing was one of many cities to introduce a quota system this year, which dramatically decreased the number of new vehicles that could be registered, in an attempt to improve traffic gridlock and air quality.

The government has also raised taxes on small cars, and like in many countries around the world, Chinese motorists are currently faced by rising fuel prices.

China overtook the US in 2009 to become the world’s largest new vehicle market. Last year, a record 18.06 million new vehicles were sold in China, which represented a 32 percent growth over the previous 12 months.

Earlier this year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) predicted a sales increase of between 10 and 15 percent. That target has now been revised to below 10 percent, meaning the nation is expected to fall just short of 20 million vehicle sales for 2011.