Honda’s joint venture with a Chinese automaker was the second top seller in the Chinese car market in the January-March quarter, outranked only by Hyundai Motor ‘s joint venture, China’s state-run media reported on Friday, according to Kyodo News.

Guangzhou Honda, the Japanese company’s joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group, sold 45,000 cars from January to March, up 58% from a year earlier, the China Daily reportedly said, quoting a report by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Beijing Hyundai, a joint venture between the South Korean carmaker and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp., saw its sales jump by almost 160% from a year earlier to 56,100 cars during the same period, according to the daily.

By contrast, sales at joint ventures of Volkswagen and General Motors Corp. – which were the two top car makers in 2004 – tumbled in the first quarter, according to the newspaper.

The daily reportedly quoted an analyst as saying Guangzhou Honda’s and Beijing Hyundai’s products were attractive to consumers in the Chinese market in such respects as prices, fuel economy and appearance.

But whether the two can maintain their top positions later this year remains to be seen as their products must compete with rival models to be launched in China this year, the daily quoted Yale Zhang, a Shanghai-based analyst at CSM Worldwide Corp. as saying, according to Kyodo News.