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Chinese Demand Drives GM Sales Higher

U.S. auto giant General Motors says its sales in China are surging, putting that country on pace to have up to 12 million new GM vehicles on the road by the end of the year.

GM Tuesday said August sales in China jumped almost 113 percent compared to the same time last year, and that those sales could rise more than 40 percent for the entire year.

The automaker has set new records for vehicle sales in China every month since January, in part because of incentives from the government.

One of GM's most profitable ventures has been a three-way partnership with China's SAIC Motor Corporation and Wuling Automotive Company, which saw sales of its vehicles jump more than 120 percent in August, compared to August of last year.

On Tuesday, GM said U.S. August sales slipped 20 percent, compared to August 2008, but increased from the month before thanks to the U.S. government's so-called "Cash for Clunkers" program, which offered rebates to drivers who traded in their old vehicles for new, fuel efficient models.

German officials are praising their version of the "Cash for Clunkers" program for boosting sales there.

Officials Wednesday said the $7 billion set aside for the program has run out after helping to sell some two million new, more fuel-efficient cars.

Other European countries also have implemented similar incentives, but critics have warned they are only temporary relief for struggling auto companies, and that the industry will face more economic turmoil once the programs end.

U.S. Transportation Department officials said last week that its "Cash for Clunkers" program spurred 700,000 sales of new, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.