General Motors said on Monday it had posted a 58% leap in first-half vehicle sales in China to a record 259,653 units, outpacing a downward trending market.

Reuters noted that the result comes after GM outsold Volkswagen‘s main Chinese unit for the first time in June after the Detroit giant slashed prices – a breakthrough analysts say may rekindle a price war in the world’s fastest-growing major car market.

Analysts reportedly said GM rolled more cars out of Chinese showrooms in June after cutting prices on two core models by up to 11% in mid-May – spurring a similar move by rival Volkswagen.

GM sold 24,040 sedans in June, up about 5% on May, Reuters said, adding that the sales figures announced on Monday included mini-buses and other commercial vehicles produced at GM’s various ventures.

Nationwide, sales of cars rose 29% to 1.123 million sedans in the first half, industry sources have told Reuters, which added that figures for all vehicles were not yet available.

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GM’s flagship venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp saw sales leap 92.4% to 141,319 vehicles in the first six months, the company reportedly said – much of that cars.

The US company also operates other ventures in China, such as SAIC-GM-Wuling, based in the southern region of Guangxi, the news agency noted.

GM reportedly said on Monday it commanded 11.7% of the domestic car market in the first five months of 2004, compared with market leader Volkswagen’s roughly 30%.

“Long term, we remain very confident,” GM’s China spokesman Dahpne Zheng told Reuters. “As an on-going effort, we will continue to closely monitor the competition and take necessary measures to ensure the competitiveness of GM products in the marketplace.”

Analysts reportedly say further price cuts are inevitable as Volkswagen fights to reclaim its top spot in the pivotal Shanghai market.