China’s vehicle sales reached 1.83m units in March, up 5.4% on last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). However, first quarter market growth showed a significant slowdown against last year's blistering pace.

CAAM also said that the sales of passenger vehicles in the month totalled 1.35m units, 6.5% ahead of the same month last year.

Car sales for the first three months of the year grew by 9.1%, compared with the first quarter last year at 3.84m units. Sales of all vehicles were up 8.1% on last year at just under 5m units.

In 2010, vehicle sales in China were up by a third to 18m units, suggesting a significant slowing in the first quarter against a high base for comparison. Analysts expect the Chinese auto market to slow this year as the authorities look to slow economic growth amid some signs of overheating as well as growing restrictions on sales in major cities.

The top ten automakers in the month were SAIC, Dongfeng, FAW, Changan, BAIC, GAC, Chery, JAC, Brilliance, and Geely and they sold a combined 1.58m vehicles, or 87% of the country’s total sales.