Despite a broader slowdown in the world's largest vehicle market, General Motors said on Jan. 9 that its sales in China hit a record high in 2011. GM and its joint ventures in China sold around 2.55 million units last year, up more than 8% from the previous record of 2.35 million in 2010.
"GM stayed ahead of the competition despite a slowdown in the growth of industry demand," said Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group.
In December alone, GM's sales in China rose 9.8% annually to 196,797 units.
China, which overtook the United States to become the world's top auto market in 2009, has become increasingly important for global players. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which tracks auto sales and production in the country, has yet to release figures for all of 2011. However, association officials have forecast that annual growth for the whole of 2011 will be just 5%, down from an earlier forecast of 10%-15%.
Sales soared more than 32% in 2010 but have since lost some steam amid a slowdown in economic growth and after China phased out incentives, including tax breaks for small-engine vehicles.
China has moved to protect its domestic auto industry in recent weeks, slapping import tariffs on some U.S. passenger cars and sports utility vehicles, and saying it would "withdraw support" for foreign investment in the sector.
But the lure of the massive market remains.
Volkswagen Group said last week that it would build a new plant in the eastern city of Ningbo capable of producing 300,000 vehicles annually once the facility is completed by 2014.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
GM, Ford and Chrysler Rack Up Strong Gains in 2011