General Motors said on Friday its sales in China, the world's largest auto market, fell 1.8 percent from a year earlier to 173,398 vehicles in July on a drop in sales of commercial vehicles.
For the first seven months of the year, the US auto giant and its joint ventures sold a record 1.45 million vehicles in China, up 4.4 percent from the same period last year, the company said in a statement.
"GM's China sales in July were down 1.8 percent from the same month last year due to the drop in industry sales of commercial vehicles, which impacted its SAIC-GM-Wuling and FAW-GM joint ventures," it said.
Sales at SAIC-GM-Wuling -- a three-way tie-up between GM, the nation's largest auto maker SAIC Motor and China's Liuzhou Wuling Automobile -- fell 14.0 percent to 77,944 units in July from 90,658 units a year earlier.
Sales at FAW-GM, its light commercial vehicle joint venture with China's FAW Group, were 3,353 units in July, down 39.7 percent from 5,560 units sold during the same month last year.
However, domestic sales at Shanghai GM, its passenger car joint venture with SAIC, rose 14.4 percent on year to 91,818 units.
China, which overtook the US to become the world's top auto market in 2009, has become increasingly important for global players such as GM. Auto sales in China rose more than 32 percent last year to a record 18.06 million units.
But the sector overall has since lost steam after Beijing phased out sales incentives such as tax breaks for small engine vehicles, originally implemented to ward off the impact of the global financial crisis.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said it expects sales to grow five percent in 2011 compared with its earlier forecast of 10-15 percent growth -- much lower than the more than 32 percent rise recorded last year.
China's auto sales rebounded in June -- rising 1.4 percent year-on-year to 1.44 million units -- after falling for two straight months.