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Volkswagen, GM Drive up Strong Sales Growth
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Both Volkswagen and General Motors (GM), the two leaders of China's car market, yesterday reported strong growth in first-half sales in the country.


Volkswagen Group and its two Chinese joint ventures sold a total of 345,375 cars from January to June this year, up 30.2 percent from a year ago, the German carmaker said.


The sales increase represented a big rebound from Volkswagen's consecutive sales tumbles in China over the past two years.


Combined sales of GM and its two ventures in China surged by a bigger pace of 47 percent to 453,832 vehicles during the period, the Detroit-based group said.


The strong performance came after GM unseated Volkswagen as the biggest foreign carmaker in China last year for the first time over the past two decades.


Winfried Vahland, president of Volkswagen Group China, said in a statement that the first-half sales growth is the "direct result" of its China restructuring strategy, called the "Olympic Program."


The program, which was launched last year, includes the introduction of new tailor-made models, the improvement of sales networks and aggressive cost-cutting efforts.


Further positive results are expected in China for the full financial year from new models to be launched in the second half of the year, Vahland said.


Volkswagen said it and the two joint ventures with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) and First Automotive Works Corp (FAW) plan to introduce 12 to 14 new models up to 2009, including the Skoda Fabia and Superb, which were added to the program last month. Skoda is the Czech unit of Volkswagen.


The venture with SAIC is now producing the Santana, Passat, Polo, Gol and Touran. It will introduce a Skoda Octavia next year.


The venture with FAW, whose line-up now includes Volkswagen Jetta, Sagitar, Bora, Golf and Caddy as well as Audi A6 and A4, will launch a redesigned Bora on Saturday.


China sales of the Volkswagen brand, including Skoda, rose by one-fourth to 306,859 units in the first half of this year, the German carmaker said.


Meanwhile, Audi brand sales almost doubled to 38,459 units.


Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group, said in a statement that it benefited from a stronger-than-expected Chinese vehicle market in the first half of this year.


"We will remain aggressive in the second half," Wale said.


"We are in the midst of rolling out about 12 new and upgraded products while expanding our sales networks this year to keep up with the rising demand for our vehicles."


He expected GM's China sales will be expanded by more than 20 percent this year from 2005.


GM runs a joint venture with SAIC, assembling the Buick Excelle, Regal and LaCrosse, Chevrolet Sail, Aveo, Lova and Epica, as well as Cadillac CTS.


Its other joint venture with SAIC and Wuling Motor in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region makes the Chevrolet Spark and Wuling-brand mini-vans.


In the first half of this year, Buick sales in China grew by 38.7 percent to 145,786 units. China sales of the Chevrolet brand amounted to 75,710 units, up 81.4 percent.


French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen's joint venture with China's Dongfeng Motor announced on Monday that its sales jumped by 38 percent to 100,173 cars from January to June.


(China Daily July 5, 2006)


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