Sales of SUVs, normally the industry’s brightest spot, shrank 10.1 percent to 872,800, according to CAAM.
Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrid autos that Beijing is spending heavily to promote grew strongly.
September purchases of electrics rose 66.2 percent over a year earlier to 541,000. Hybrid sales gained 146.9 percent to 181,000.
Automakers are rolling out dozens of electrics but gasoline-powered models supply their profits.
— General Motors Co. said sales in the three months ending in September declined 14.9 percent from a year ago to 835,934. For the first nine months of the year, sales declined 2.5 percent to 2.7 million.
— Volkswagen AG sales in China and Hong Kong fell 5.7 percent to 383,500. Year-to-date sales rose 5 percent to 3 million.