SAIC-GM-Wuling, the primary General Motors joint-venture in China, will raise production capacity by close to 50% by the second half of 2012, reports said. The company is also planning to launch a passenger vehicle brand later this year.

The boost will take total production to 1.31m units a year, a statement said.

GM’s joint venture with Liuzhou Wuling Automobile and China’s largest auto maker, SAIC, will expand output across two sites. Its plant in Liuzhou in southern China will jump to 800,000 units a year from 590,000 at present. The plant in Qingdao in eastern China will move to 510,000 units from 300,000.

Last month, GM said it remained extremely confident about its prospects for growth in China in the medium-term, expecting to sell more than 3m vehicles annually in China by 2015.

GM expects to sell more than 2m vehicles in high-growth China this year.

Kevin Wale, GM’s China manager, has also told reporters that GM plans to roll out 25 new or upgraded models in China in 2010 and 2011.

Vehicle sales in China were up by 34.4% year-on-year in April amid a growing consensus that the coming months will see an easing of frenetic market growth.

Auto sales were up 34.37% from a year earlier to about 1.56m in April, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement.

Car sales in April were 1.1m units – up 33% from a year earlier.