General Motors and one of Volkswagen's ventures reportedly posted sales rises in China but analysts were sceptical of a return to rapid growth in the world's third-largest vehicle market.

According to Reuters, GM said its four Chinese ventures sold 247,232 units in the first five months, up 12.4% from the same period of 2004, with just over a third of that coming from its flagship facility in China's commercial stronghold of Shanghai.

The smaller of Volkswagen's two Chinese auto-making joint ventures reportedly posted a 22% increase in vehicle sales in May from April, a sign that sharp discounts might be luring buyers back into showrooms.

FAW-Volkswagen, the German firm's 50-50 tie-up with First Automotive Works, moved 23,000 vehicles last month, compared with 18,900 in April, executives told Reuters without offering yearly comparisons - Volkswagen counts China as its largest market outside Germany.

"It doesn't seem that the market is warming up as soon as had been expected," Capital International analyst Lin Wenjun told the news agency, adding: "Many consumers are still waiting in the wings for more price cuts."

Reuters noted that analysts and industry executives expect car sales in China to grow 10 to 15% this year - well off a near-doubling in 2003, when growing numbers of newly rich Chinese got behind the wheel for the first time.