GM first foreign carmaker to sell two million units in China

US auto giant General Motors said Thursday it had become the first international carmaker to sell two million vehicles in a year in China, now the world's largest auto market.

The strong China sales further underlined the country's growing importance to GM, where it has been the market leader for five years and the carmaker's international operations are now based.

"This is another important milestone for General Motors in China," GM China president and managing director Kevin Wale said in a statement.

In a sign of GM's momentum, Wale pointed out it was only three years ago that GM - along with its Chinese joint venture partners - became the first to sell one million vehicles a year.

China overtook the United States last year to become the world's largest auto market for the first time and is on track to hold onto the top spot this year, analysts say.

"Over the past decade, China's vehicle market has experienced unprecedented growth," Wale said.

"GM has grown with it, working with our joint ventures to expand our lineup of vehicles and brands, adding to our portfolio of services, and increasing our production capacity to meet the changing needs of consumers," he added.

The US car maker announced on Wednesday it had agreed to closer ties with partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), China's biggest car company, including cooperation on the development of new energy vehicles.

GM's other joint ventures in China are SAIC-GM-Wuling, a mini-commercial vehicle joint venture with SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile, and FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle, a tie-up with China's FAW Group launched in August.

The US company said it and its joint ventures have benefited from record monthly sales throughout the year. In October, GM sold 199,641 vehicles in China, a 19.6 percent rise year-on-year.

SAIC Group, the biggest domestic carmaker which sold 2.7 million vehicles last year, has said it is closely watching GM's 13 billion-dollar US initial public offering.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese automaker declined to comment on Thursday on reports that it would like to invest in the listing, saying only: "We hope their IPO will be successful".

GM hopes the listing, one of the largest in US history, will allow it to break from government ownership. GM was forced into a state-backed bankruptcy reorganisation in June 2009 and emerged a little more than a month later.

The US government owns a 60.8 percent stake in General Motors Company and the Canadian and Ontario governments have a combined 11.7-percent holding.