Data issued by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) shows that the Chinese vehicle market slowed in 2011.

Vehicle demand in China slowed last year in response to efforts by Beijing to cool inflationary pressures and slow the economy as well as measures to curtail sales growth in some congested cities.

CAAM said the vehicle market was up by 2.45% on the previous year to stand at 18.5m units, the the slowest growth in 13 years. In 2010, the market was up by a third on the previous year.

Automobile output edged up 0.84% from a year earlier to 18.42m units in 2011.

In breakdown, sales of passenger cars last year reached 14.47m units in 2011, up 5.19% from a year earlier, while passenger vehicle output rose 4.23% year-on-year to 14.48m units.

Commercial vehicle sales and output both declined by 6.31% year-on-year and 9.94% to 4.03m units and 3.93m units, respectively.

Sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) rose much faster last year, with sales of SUVs and MPVs up 20.19% and 11.74% to 1.59m units and 497,700 units, respectively, according to CAAM.

China's finished auto exports surged to a record high of 814,300 units, up 49.45% from a year earlier.

Despite the slowdown in 2011, foreign carmakers outperformed their domestic rivals as Chinese consumers increasingly favour higher quality vehicles. For example, General Motors and its joint ventures sold a record 2.55m units in China last year, up 8.3% over 2010.