BEIJING (AP) -- General Motors Co. said Friday it set a sales record in China in September and total sales for the first nine months of the year rose 55 percent to nearly 1.3 million vehicles.
GM and other global automakers are looking to China's fast-growing market to drive sales amid slack demand elsewhere. China's monthly sales have surpassed those of United States for all but but two months this year.
GM and its Chinese joint-venture partners sold a total of 181,148 vehicles in September, the company said. It gave no comparative year-earlier figure.
"Sales continue to surpass forecasts as nearly all market segments experience growth," said GM China Group President Kevin Wale in a statement.
First-time buyers in smaller Chinese cities were an important force driving sales, Wale said.
Beijing has helped to boost auto sales with tax cuts and subsidies for drivers to shift to cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars. Most of that aid has gone to Chinese makers of smaller cars, though foreign producers also see sales rising.
GM said September sales by its flagship joint venture, Shanghai GM, set a monthly record of 71,566 vehicles, while total sales for the first nine months of the year rose 40.2 percent from a year earlier.
SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM's mini-commercial vehicle joint venture, sold 100,635 vehicles in September, boosting total sales for the first nine months by 64.5 percent to 801,869 units.
GM's joint venture with Chinese truck maker FAW, FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle Co. Ltd., sold 8,780 light-duty trucks and vans in September.