China's auto sales rebounded in October but Japanese brands suffered a sharp downturn amid a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, an industry group said.

Sales in the world's biggest auto market rose 6.4 per cent to 1.3 million vehicles, according to the government-sanctioned China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Japanese brands extended September's sales slide, declining 38 per cent overall from a year earlier, the CAAM said.

Sales of Japanese vehicles plunged in September as the dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea prompted buyers to avoid Japanese showrooms.


Customers who planned to buy Japanese models are putting off purchases but have yet to switch to other brands, said Jia Xinguang, an independent auto industry analyst in Beijing.

"They are watching and waiting," he said.

The slump for Japanese brands is hurting China as well, because many Japanese vehicles sold in this country are produced in local factories with components bought from Chinese suppliers. Japanese automakers temporarily closed some of their China factories and have reduced production.

General Motors said sales of GM-brand vehicles rose 14.3 per cent from a year earlier to 251,812, surpassing 250,000 for the first time. Ford said sales of Ford-brand vehicles rose 48 per cent to 60,518 and sales so far this year were up 14 per cent from the same period in 2011.

General Motors and its joint ventures sold an October-record 251,812 vehicles in China.