Chinese car exports top imports
However, exports were largely trucks or low-cost vehicles while imports were far more valuable, tending to be luxury models from the US, Japan and Europe.
The Ministry of Commerce said there was a glut of about two million vehicles.
Domestic overcapacity could increase further, it said, as new car plants were continuing to be built.
Ma Kai, minister in charge of the State Development and Reform Commission, said no new steel factories would be approved in principle next year in an effort to stem output.China exports most of its cars to developing countries such as Vietnam, Syria and Algeria.
It is looking to increase exports to the US, particularly of trucks and pick-up vehicles which can be produced far more cheaply in China.
These already account for nearly 60% of exports.
"Exports will surely continue to increase," Yale Zhang, from car industry consultancy CSM Asia, told the Financial Times.
"The future (for Chinese vehicle exports) is America."
China's economic growth has attracted the world's largest carmakers, with DaimlerChrysler becoming the latest major manufacturer to reveal plans to build cars there.