SAIC has reported a 2.6% rise in profit last year, its slowest growth since 2008.

Profits were squeezed by a slowing economy and increasing competition in the Chinese vehicle market. 

SAIC said that it earned CNY20.8bn (net profit) in 2012, up from CNY20.2bn in the previous year. 

SAIC is partnered with GM and Volkswagen, joint ventures performing well, but also facing tougher competition from smaller independents and domestic-only brands that sell cars at low prices.

SAIC sold 4.49m vehicle in 2012, an increase of 12% year-on-year. Sales of passenger cars increased 12.5% to 2.98m units, and commercial vehicle sales rose 10.8% to 1.5m units.

The China Daily noted that a surge in demand for SUVs helped to boost profits at Great Wall Motor and Geely. Great Wall registered a 66% net profit increase to CNY5.7bn and Zhejiang-based Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd had a net profit increase of 32% to  CNY2bn. Both makers are reporting large gains in export volumes.