GAC cars such as this Trumpchi GA5 sedan recorded 97 faults per 100 vehicles in the second annual JD Power new-car survey in China, better than Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Nissan.

China's state-owned GAC Motor scored above average in a closely watched quality survey, as home-grown brands narrowed the gap with the foreign marques that dominate the world's biggest car market.

GAC, which sells cars under its own brand Trumpchi, had 97 problems per 100 newly sold vehicles in a survey published on Thursday by market-research firm JD Power & Associates.

That was better than the average 119 problems and beat global names such as General Motors’ Buick and Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and Honda.

A lower score indicates higher quality, with a score over 100 showing multiple problems per vehicle.

Three other Chinese brands - Venucia, Roewe and Luxgen, also performed better than the industry average, compared with none last year when JD Power started ranking domestic brands in the survey.

Venucia is a brand developed by a Chinese joint venture with Nissan for the local market, while Roewe is a brand SAIC started with technologies the state-owned Chinese carmaker purchased from Britain's Rover.

China vice-president for JD Power Mei Songlin said: “Chinese domestic brands have achieved tremendous improvements in vehicle quality in 2013.”

NEW SKILLS

Chinese automakers including SAIC, GAC and FAW have stepped up efforts to develop their own brands using technologies and skills they have learned or bought from foreign companies, which can only operate in China through joint ventures.

But despite these efforts, foreign brands still grabbed the top spots in the survey - Lexus and Mercedes-Benz tied for the top position, with 52 problems per 100 cars, followed by Subaru, Volkswagen and BMW.

The JD Power survey, started 14 years ago, monitors how cars perform in the first two to six months of ownership by asking randomly selected buyers.

It measures the number of problems, such as design-related issues, defects and malfunctions that buyers identify, per 100 vehicles. - Reuters