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GM, Ford See Strong China Sales

General Motors Co. says it is set to sell more than 2 million vehicles in China this year after posting record sales for October.

SHANGHAI (AP) -- General Motors Co. says it is set to sell more than 2 million vehicles in China this year after posting record sales for October.

GM and its ventures in China sold 199,641 vehicles last month, up nearly 20 percent from the year before. That took its sales for the first 10 months of the year to 1,976,913 vehicles -- a gain of 36 percent, it said in a statement Thursday.

"This is another important milestone for General Motors in China," said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. "It was only three years ago that GM became the first global automaker to reach the 1 million annual sales mark in China."

Rival Ford Motor Co., which got a later start in China and has smaller operations here, reported it sold 49,681 vehicles in October, up 33 percent. Ford's China sales in January-October surged 39 percent to 468,754.

Global automakers are relying increasingly on sales in China and other developing countries to offset weakness in the U.S. and other traditional markets.

Thanks partly to its strong performance in China, the company forecast Wednesday that it earned up to $2.1 billion from July to September, a boost ahead of the company's Nov. 18 initial stock offering.

Despite the monthly record for GM's October sales in China, growth overall in the market has slowed in recent months, particularly with a weakening in demand for minivehicles that helped buoy the company's China sales to 1.8 million last year.

Sales by SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM's mini-vehicle joint venture, rose only 5.1 percent over a year earlier, to 93,935 units, the company said.

Tax cuts and subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles helped spur sales of minivans and other small cars last year. This year, demand for bigger class vehicles and imported models has rebounded as car owners upgraded.

Sales of Buick brand cars by GM's flagship joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., or SAIC, jumped 36 percent in October from the year before to 54,490 units, while sales of Chevrolet products surged 53 percent year-on-year to 50,813 units, GM said.

On Wednesday, GM and state-owned SAIC announced an non-binding agreement to boost their cooperation, especially in developing new-energy vehicles and in developing sales in other Asian markets. The plan, which is subject to further negotiation on details, calls for the two companies to work more closely in sharing powertrain and vehicle design technology and in training technical staff.

The companies have also announced plans for a joint venture to sell used cars.

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