General Motors is claiming new records for sales and market share in mainland China in 2006.

With six brands, the automaker and its domestic joint venture operations sold 876,747 vehicles in mainland China, which was about 208,000 units more than in 2005, up 31.8% from 2005 and ahead of estimated industry growth of around 24%. It took GM’s market share in mainland China to an estimated 11.8%.

SAIC-GM-Wuling led the way, with sales of its family of mini-vehicles rising 36.5% to 460,155 vehicles. Sales by Shanghai GM rose 26.8% to 412,791 units.

“Vehicle sales continued to outpace most projections as a result of unprecedented consumer demand for passenger cars,” said GM China group president and managing director Kevin Wale. “While demand was particularly strong in the small car segment, nearly all passenger car segments experienced growth.

“GM took advantage by introducing a series of new products under all six of our brands sold locally, in the process expanding what was already the broadest vehicle line-up in the marketplace,” Wale added.

Since 2002, when SAIC-GM-Wuling was formed, sales of GM and its joint ventures have grown an average of 34.9% annually and GM’s market share has risen by 4.3%age points. GM’s local product line-up has grown as well, to about 30 different models.

In 2006, sales of GM’s flagship brand in China, Buick, increased 24.9% to 304,230 units. Buick benefited from new vehicles such as the LaCrosse premium sedan which registered sales of 52,021 units in its first year on the market.

Chevrolet sales topped 100,000 units for a second consecutive year, rising 36.8% to 145,392 vehicles. The brand’s best-selling model in China in 2006 was the Spark mini-car built and marketed by SAIC-GM-Wuling, which sold 40,015 units. It was followed by the Lova small car from Shanghai GM, which sold 36,893 units in its first year on the market.

The Wuling brand of mini-commercial vehicles and minivans enjoyed sales growth of 35.4% in 2006 to 420140 vehicles.