China has leapfrogged the US to become the world's largest auto market, according to monthly figures from the Chinese state media.
In January 735,000 cars were sold in China said state TV, quoting the deputy director of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, Dong Yong.
Last week, preliminary estimates from US market research firm Autodata said 656,976 cars were sold in the US.
Analysts say this is an anomaly as the new lunar year boosts sales in China.
Meanwhile, the US traditionally sees a post-Christmas decline in sales.
Analysts predict that the US will remain the world's biggest market for the full year.
Several also point out that the figures indicate the deterioration of the auto market in the US, rather than any particular increase in Chinese demand.
"More than 80% to 90% of US car purchases were made on credit," said Global Insight analyst, John Zeng.
"Once the [US] financial system got into trouble, the sales model supported by the financial system collapsed."