General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner has told the Financial Times (FT) his firm’s sales growth in China had slowed in recent months from earlier exponential levels but remained in line with a projected increase this year of 20 to 30%.

Wagoner, speaking in Shanghai, reportedly said sales in China were “slowing down from growing 50% per annum [pro rata in the first quarter] to maybe now growing 25%”.

But Wagoner reportedly said the single largest problem remained keeping up with demand, an issue the company planned to address through its recently announced plans to double capacity with its joint venture partners, including SAIC, to 1.3 million units within three years.

“It would be silly for us to expect every day to stay on a perfect growth curve but we are highly confident [the new capacity] will be filled,” he told the FT.

From January to May this year, GM and its partners in China reportedly sold 219,888 vehicles – a year-on-year increase of nearly 60%.

Wagoner told the Financial Times that earnings this year in Asia-Pacific were on target to reach $US700-800 million, the largest chunk of which would come from China – GM’s earnings from China last year were $437 million.

GM executives reportedly said that central and local governments had yet to approve all of the projects the US company was planning to ramp up capacity but that they did not expect any problems.

Wagoner told the FT that GM was still in talks with the government over a complaint that a Chinese rival, Chery, had pirated one of its designs and welcomed the issue being raised by visiting US commerce secretary, Donald Evans.