Record oil prices have failed to temper the enthusiasm of Chinese auto buyers. In 2006, 6.2 million cars were sold in China, enough for the Middle Kingdom to surpass Japan for #2 in total vehicle sales (the United States still sells twice as many). In the first five months of 2008, Chinese auto sales show no signs of decelerating, up 17.4% from the same period last year.
The rise in Chinese auto sales has been so dramatic that projections by China’s government for auto sales in 2020 were already exceeded by 2005.
Assuming that the 7.3 million new car owners in 2008 each drive 5,000 miles a year, and they achieve 40 miles per gallon, the result would be an additional 45.6 million barrels of crude demand, equivalent to 125,000 bbl/day. In other words, new Chinese drivers will devour 25-30% of the recently promised Saudi production increase in a single year.
From a private source.