Volvo Cars, the Swedish luxury brand owned by China's Geely, defied a slowing global auto market to set a record for sales in the first half of the year, although U.S. trade war tariffs and falling prices squeezed profits.

The 7.3 per cent year-on-year jump to a record 340,286 cars during the first half of the year was accompanied by a 5.9 per cent rise in sales revenue to 130 billion Swedish kronor (US$13.9 billion)

"At a time when most markets in the world see stagnating car sales, we have had strong growth in the first half," chief executive Hakan Samuelsson was quoted as saying in a statement.

But increased pricing pressure and tariffs squeezed operating profit, he acknowledged, adding that the company had implemented cost controls that should be felt in the second half of this year.

Reflecting these pressures, operating profit tumbled nearly 30 per cent to 5.5 billion Swedish kronor.

Last year Volvo Cars, bought by Geely from Ford in 2010, set an annual sales record of more than 600,000 vehicles although profits were already feeling the effects of the US trade war with China and the European Union.