DaimlerChrysler posted a 70% jump in sales of its Mercedes luxury cars in China in the first half year, defying a slowdown in nationwide car sales that began in April, Reuters reported.

But a worsening energy crunch across the country forced the auto maker's Beijing Jeep venture to halt production for a few days recently, an executive told the news agency on Tuesday.

After years of under-investment in capacity and rising incomes, China faces an electricity shortage that has triggered emergency conservation measures, especially during peak summer demand, Reuters noted.

"We've taken a couple of days off based on the request of the government here in Beijing," spokesman Trevor Hale told the news agaency, adding: "We can make up the volume, by maybe working a little overtime if we need to. I don't think that's impacted our programme."

Reuters noted that DaimlerChrysler joins Volkswagen and General Motors in announcing recent output disruptions.

Car makers reportedly are also dealing with slowing industry growth.

Wrapping in sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from the Beijing Jeep venture - China's oldest auto production venture - DaimlerChrysler reportedly sold 22,200 vehicles in China in January-June, a rise of 173% or more than double the same 2003 period.

But the Stuttgart-based firm said it expects sales of its vehicles in China to grow just 75% over the full year, according to Reuters.

The report noted that China's red-hot auto sector has been targeted by the Beijing government which fears that car firms are adding too much capacity, helping ramp up raw materials prices and fomenting an industry downturn.

Still, DaimlerChrsyler, which hopes to sell 50,000 Mercedes cars annually in China in five to 10 years, reportedly said the luxury car segment was not the worst hit by a slowdown sparked by a clampdown on auto credit nationwide.

"That has not impacted the luxury segment as much as it may have other segments," Hale told Reuters, adding: "we're certainly watching macroeconomic factors and looking at efforts to curb the loans."

Reuters noted that DaimlerChrysler sold 5,500 Mercedes in the first half, all of which were imported - executives reportedly said last month the company aimed to move 14,000 units this year after selling 9,200 last year.

DaimlerChrysler plans to start making Mercedes in China in the middle of next year, the report said, after signing a $1.1 billion deal last year with venture partner Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. to produce 25,000 C-class compact cars and E-class mid-sized sedans.