Sales of new light passenger vehicles in China increased by 10.1% to 1,881,835 units in January, from 1,709,230 units a year earlier, according to data released by the China Passenger Car Association.

There is considerable underlying strength in the Chinese vehicle market at present, with the latest growth data coming on top of very strong year-earlier figures – which had increased by more than 46% on January 2012.

Analysts point out that some of last month’s increase was down to buyers anticipating measures by some municipalities to limit growth in the local car population because of rising concerns over congestion and pollution.

General Motors and its joint ventures led the Chinese market with a 12% rise to sales to a record 348,061 units in January; followed by the Volkswagen brand with a 13.9% rise to 267,800 units.

Other major auto brands reporting January sales include Hyundai, with volumes rising by 6.8% to 115,198 units; Nissan 95,200 units (-0.4%); Ford 94,466 units (+53%); Toyota 85,600 units (+18.1%); Kia 60,026 units (+8.5%); Audi 44,226 units (+18.2%); BMW 37,137 units (+22.2%); and Mercedes-Benz 24,887 units (+42%).