US car giant General Motors expects to sell more than 1m vehicles in China for the first time this year.

During a presentation to securities analysts, GM's CFO Fritz Henderson said Chinese demand for new vehicles is up 21% and should top 8.4m units in 2007, a four-fold increase from the 2m vehicles sold in 2001.

“We're on pace for our sales in China join the million unit club,” Henderson said, calling China now GM's second most important market after the US . “It's also profitable growth,” he said.

Henderson said GM's earnings from its Chinese ventures would increase from $157m to around $230m dollars this year.

GM has stakes in several different operations in China, among them Shanghai Automotive and a joint venture with Wuling Automotive.

The US car giant is also looking to open up additional markets for its vehicles in Asia, particularly Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and India.

The good news from China contrasts with GM's continuing decline in the US, where its sales dropped 18.5% in July as Asian and European firms topped US producers in US market share.

Elsewhere on the automotive front:

  • Kia Motors of South Korea wants to triple production of its Chinese car venture, based in Yancheng, Jiangsu province. A new second plant with a capacity of 300,000 vehicles, will take Kia's overall production to 430,000 units in 2010. Kia operates in China as Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motors, a three-way tie-up with Dongfeng Motor Group and Jiangsu Yueda Investment.

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