Chery has become the first Chinese carmaker to have built more than 5 million cars. Chery J3 shown.

Hefei, China - Chery Automobile has become the first Chinese carmaker to have produced five million cars.

The five millionth Chery rolled off the production line on Friday, capping off a good year for the company that seems in defiance of the general market downturn.

Chery sold 50 540 vehicles in November, up 22.9 percent year on year. Its sales hit 252 439 in the first six months of 2015, up 17 percent from the same period last year. China's total car sales rose only 1.4 percent in the first half.

Chery was founded in Wuhu in east China's Anhui Province in 1997. It took 10 years to produce its first million cars. Over its history, the company has invested 30 billion yuan (R69bn) in research and development, and has applied 7308 national patents.

The company is now looking to the future as Chinese carmakers become less reliant on foreign partners and try to break into foreign markets.

“The next five yeas are a period of prime opportunity for Chinese automakers, as Internet technology combined with new energy solutions will bring a reshuffle to the world's auto industry,” said Chery Ceo Yin Tongyue.

A joint venture between Chery and the UK's Jaguar Land Rover produces Chery's self-developed models as well as China-made Land Rovers. Chery has exported over 1.2 million vehicles to more than 80 countries and regions.