US auto giant General Motors said that its sales in China, the world's biggest car market, hit a record 2.84 million vehicles last year, despite the country's slowing economy.

GM's China sales grew 11.3 percent in 2012 from 2011, which recorded the previous record of around 2.55 million vehicles, the company said in a statement.

GM's sales growth outpaced China as a whole. A Chinese industry group said Friday that China's auto sales rose only 4.3 percent year-on-year to 19.31 million vehicles in 2012.

"GM remained a leader in our company's largest market in spite of a downturn in the commercial vehicle segment," President of GM China Bob Socia said in the statement.

Analysts say a fall in sales of commercial vehicles -- which includes heavy trucks and buses -- hurt growth in China's overall vehicle sales last year.

Passenger car sales were hit by limits on car numbers imposed by some Chinese cities to ease traffic congestion and cut pollution, as well as a political row between China and Japan that hurt sales of Japanese cars.

But other foreign car makers have grabbed market share as Chinese consumers shunned Japanese cars after Tokyo nationalised a chain of islands in the East China Sea which are also claimed by Beijing, sparking nationwide protests.

In December, GM and its ventures in China sold 242,486 vehicles, rising 23.2 percent year-on-year and setting a record for the month, the company said.

Separately, Germany's Volkswagen said on Monday that it sold 2.81 million vehicles in China last year, up 24.5 percent from 2011.

Foreign auto companies in China have been helped by stronger brand recognition and perceptions of better quality among domestic consumers.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]