BEIJING: China's auto sales soared 77.9 percent in September from a year ago to 1.33 million units, an industry body said on Tuesday, the seventh straight month that sales exceeded the one million unit mark.

For the first nine months of the year, vehicle sales rose 34.2 percent from the same period a year earlier to 9.66 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement on its website.

Auto sales in the country are expected to break the 10 million unit mark in the middle of this month and surpass 12 million for the full year, it said.

Sales of passenger cars, including sedans, multi-purpose vehicles and sport utilities, rose 83.6 percent on year to 1.02 million units last month, the association said.

That represented an 18.3 percent increase from August, it said.

Sales volume reached 7.24 million units in the January to September period, up 41.9 percent on-year and 485,900 units more than the total number of passenger cars sold last year, the association said in a separate statement.

Commercial vehicle sales surged by 61.7 percent in September from a year earlier to 316,700 units, it said.

China's total car sales outstripped those of the United States for the first time in January to make the Asian giant the world's largest car market, helped by Beijing's efforts to stimulate domestic consumption.GM sees China as top car market

These measures included slashing taxes on cars with engines smaller than 1.6 litres and subsidising alternative-energy vehicles.

Last year, a total of 9.4 million units were sold in China, up eight percent from the previous year, but market growth was slower than the on-year expansion of 21.8 percent in 2007.