DETROIT -- Ford and General Motors reported stronger sales in China during the first half of 2014.
Ford's China sales rose 35 percent to 549,256 vehicles this year through June, as the automaker dramatically increases its presence in the world's largest auto market.
GM's China sales rose 10.5 percent, to 1.7 million vehicles, more than the 1.46 million it sold in the U.S. during the same time.
For Ford, whose sales also increased 17 percent in June, the results are an encouraging sign for a company that it is beginning to catch up with GM and Volkswagen in China.
Although increasing at a slower pace than Ford, GM's strong position in China remains one of its biggest assets. The company sold 19 percent more vehicles in China than it did in the U.S. in the first half of 2014.
Foreign auto companies are required to partner with Chinese manufacturers through joint ventures to make cars there. Although that means splitting profits 50-50, it's still a crucial market for the U.S. auto industry.
Ford's passenger car joint venture, called Changan Ford, reported a 39 percent increase in sales for the first half to 286,433 units. The unit's Ford Focus sales rose 9 percent for the half to 185,648.
The company's Jiangling Motors, a commercial vehicle unit in China, recorded a 21 percent sales increase in the first six months to 132,938 vehicles.
GM's Shanghai GM joint venture sold 819,667 vehicles in the first sixth months, up 10 percent from a year earlier, while the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture reported an 11.5 percent increase to 883,724 vehicles. GM's FAW-GM joint venture sales fell 7 percent to 27,579.
The Buick brand, the most popular American GM brand in China, reported a 12 percent increase to 460,421 units in the first six months.
GM's Chevrolet brand, which has charted an aggressive growth strategy in China, continues to trail the automaker's other brands, rising only 4 percent in the first sixth months to 335,486 units.
Sales of the Cadillac brand, which has also mapped out an ambitious growth strategy, surged 72 percent in the first half to 33,760 units