GM's China sales hit record high for March

US auto giant General Motors said Thursday that its China sales set a record for March, despite an overall slowdown in the world's biggest car market.

The company, the world's biggest automaker by sales, sold 257,944 vehicles in March, up more than 10 percent from the same month last year, and its highest total for the month, according to a company statement.

Strong March sales -- helped by demand for the Buick brand -- brought total sales for the first quarter to 745,152 vehicles,which is also a quarterly record, it said.

"GM has maintained our growth in our largest market in 2012, despite an overall industry slowdown," Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group, was quoted as saying.

China's overall auto sales have slowed after the government rolled back sales incentives and some cities imposed tough restrictions on car numbers to ease chronic traffic congestion and pollution.

Nationwide sales rose just 2.5 percent to 18.51 million units in 2011, compared with an annual increase of more than 32 percent in 2010.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has yet to release auto sales figures for March.

In February, China's total vehicles sales surged 24.5 percent to 1.57 million units but were likely boosted by seasonal factors.

Analysts say domestic consumers favour foreign brands over their local rivals for name recognition and perceptions of higher quality.

GM sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in China last year.

As the world's largest auto market, China has become increasingly important to foreign players, like GM and Germany's Volkswagen.

Separately, Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it would introduce four new vehicles to the China market this month, as part of previously announced plans to bring 15 new vehicles to the country by 2015.

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