GM president: China economy better than you think

The overall Chinese economy may be slowing, but its consumers are in good shape, as evidenced by last year's strong sales for General Motors in the country, GM President Daniel Ammann said Monday.

"Last year, 2015, we posted another year of record sales in China. Our sales [there] last year were up just over 5 percent ... 3.7 million vehicles," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on the sidelines of the Detroit Auto Show.

Ammann said last year's sales performance underscores that the "real economy" remains in decent shape: "Growth is slower than it had been in the past, but it's still the world's largest market for us. It's still growing."

"The underlying demand seems to be there. Any time you've had an economy as big as China growing as fast as it's been growing, some imbalances will build up in places," he said. "[But] we're getting back to a more maturing kind of growth rate there."

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GM and its Chinese joint venture partners sold 445,227 vehicles December, a 14 percent rise from a year earlier, matching its growth rate for November.

The automaker plans to launch 13 new or revamped models in China in 2016, including the Cadillac CT6, Malibu XL and Cruze XL, one more launch than last year.

GM recorded several months of decreasing sales in mid-2015, as China's economy expanded at its slowest pace in 25 years and the stock market slumped. Sales then rebounded strongly in October after the Chinese government cut taxes on small-engine cars.

The concerns about China's economy that surfaced last year have been rekindled in the beginning of 2016.

The Chinese stock market dropped another 5.3 percent Monday, after last week's turmoil resulted in volatility circuit breakers closing down trading in two sessions.

By the end of last week, Chinese regulators suspended the circuit breakers, but investors remained worried about the country's ability to handle financial unrest.

Last week, the Shanghai composite lost all of its 2015 gains, falling by 9.97 percent in just five days.

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— Reuters contributed to this report.