General Motors Co GM.UL said on Friday that its China vehicle sales in the first nine months of this year jumped 55.6 percent from a year earlier, boosted by Beijing's stimulus policies and boding well for record sales for the full year.

General Motors, which competes with Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE) for the top spot in China's market as well as vying globally, sold 1.29 million vehicles during January-September in China, its second-biggest market, it said in a statement.

For September, its sales totaled 181,148 vehicles. It gave no year-ago figure or percentage comparisons for the month.

The Detroit automaker and its Chinese joint venture had an estimated market share of 13.4 percent in the country as of the end of September, it said, without providing comparative data.

Sales continue to surpass forecasts as nearly all market segments experience growth, said Kevin Wale, president and managing director for GM's China operations.

Wale, who said first-time car buyers in China's smaller cities were a major driving force behind surging sales, has forecast a more than 40 percent surge in GM's vehicle sales in the country in 2009.

China's auto market, which overtook the United States as the world's largest in January, has been a leading bright spot in the struggling global auto industry as government incentives spurred a pick-up in demand.

GM has been among the major beneficiaries of the initiatives, with its China vehicle sales hitting monthly records since January.

Shanghai GM, the U.S. automaker's flagship car venture with SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS), sold 480,202 vehicles in the first three quarters, up 40.4 percent from a year earlier, GM said.

The venture's September sales came to 71,566 units, an all-time monthly record, it said, without providing year-ago comparisons.

SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM's commercial vehicle tie-up with SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile, sold 100,635 vehicles last month in China, surpassing the 100,000 unit mark for a second time. Sales were up 64.5 percent in the first nine months at 801,869 units.

FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle Co, set up in August, sold 8,780 light trucks and vans in September.

GM has said it planned to roll out 30 new or revamped models in China from 2009 to 2014, including 10 Buick and Chevrolet models due for launch this year and next.