General Motors (IW 500/4) has said one of its Chinese joint ventures will invest 6.6 billion yuan (US$1 billion) in a new plant to meet growing demand for commercial vehicles.

The venture between GM and Chinese partners SAIC Motor and Wuling Motors aims to open the 400,000-vehicle-a-year plant in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing in 2015, according to a GM statement released late Wednesday.

The plant would be the venture's third in China, after others in the eastern city of Qingdao and Liuzhou in the south.

The three partners set up their joint venture in 2002 to produce mini-trucks and mini-vans, but the Liuzhou plant started producing a passenger car under the local Baojun brand earlier this month, GM has said.

In the first 10 months of this year, the venture sold just under 1.2 million units in China, up 13.9% year-on-year, helping propel GM's overall Chinese sales to around 2.3 million vehicles in the period, up 10.5%.

Japanese brands have suffered in the Chinese market in recent months due to a territorial dispute between the two countries, allowing other foreign companies to grab more market share.

China's nationwide auto sales growth slowed last year from 2010 but some foreign car makers have bucked the downward trend with better brand recognition and perceptions of better quality among consumers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012