Vehicle sales in China rose nearly 50% in the first half of this year, with General Motors leading, industry data showed on Monday.

The data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers came a few days after Ford said its H1 sales more than doubled to 74,395 vehicles and showed total sales in the first half at 1.8m units, up 46.9% from the same period of 2005, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Shanghai GM, General Motors' joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp (SAIC), nudged aside former market leader FAW Volkswagen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Recent data have shown a continued revival in sales following a slump in early 2004. Vehicle sales rose 21% in 2005, up from 15% in 2004.

AP noted the report gave no sales figures for individual automakers. However, GM earlier reported that its sales at Shanghai GM had jumped 49% year-on-year in the first half to 201,901, helped by the popularity of its best-selling sedan, the Excelle.

Next was Shanghai Volkswagen, the German firm's JV with SAIC, the Xinhua report said, followed by FAW Volkswagen, Chery Automobile, Beijing Hyundai Motor, Tianjin FAW Toyota Automobile, Tianjin-FAW Xiali Automobile, Geely Automobile, Guangzhou Honda Automobile and Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile, the reports said.

The top 10 car makers accounted for 1.27m units, or about 70% of total sales, they said.

Citing earlier released data, AP said GM and its joint ventures sold 453,832 vehicles in China in the January-June period, up 47% from first-half 2005, Volkswagen sales up 30% in the first half, to 345,375 vehicles and Honda's China unit said on Monday that its sales rose 22% in the first half of this year to 143,519 units, from 117,751 units in January-June 2005.

Guangzhou Honda, a joint venture with Denway Motors, sold 123,512 cars in the first half, up 16% over a year earlier, the Japanese automaker told AP.

Honda's sales through its joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group rose 73% to 20,007, the company said, according to the report.