in December, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, according to CAAM.
In the United States, now the world's second-largest auto market, sales rose more than 11 percent in January, a surprisingly robust showing that marked the strongest annualized sales rate for the industry in nearly two-and-a-half years.
In Japan, car sales turned sharply higher in January, buoyed by the government's efforts to help its struggling auto industry, while sales in South Korea shrank on a slowing economy and a lull during the Lunar New Year holiday.
In China, January was not a good month for most foreign auto makers.
Ford Motor shipped 30,976 vehicles to its dealers in the month, down 41.9 percent from a year earlier.
General Motor and Volkswagen AG's car ventures in Shanghai both reported a rare annual decline for sales in January.
Nissan Motor and Dongfeng Motor's joint venture, which vastly outperformed the market in 2011, ended the month with a 20.4 percent fall from a year ago.
Major Chinese auto groups SAIC Motor and Dongfeng, which rely heavily on their foreign partners to dress up balance sheets also suffered.
Dongfeng's January car sales plunged 19.4 percent from a year earlier, while sales of SAIC, GM and Volkswagen's China partner dropped 8.5 percent.
Mazda, a small player in China, however, sold 22,740 cars in the country, up 14 percent.