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Audi Plans to Drive up Sales Growth
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Audi AG, the luxury arm of German carmaker Volkswagen AG, is aiming for 11 percent sales growth in China this year to cement its decade-long position as the top luxury car firm in the world's No 2 vehicle market.


Ralph Weyler, Audi's board member in charge of marketing and sales, said it expects to sell 90,000 vehicles in China this year, up from 80,808 units last year.


Its 2006 sales increased 39 percent on the previous year.


"The pace achieved last year could not be sustained this year, although China's booming economy will continue to boost luxury car sales," Weyler said.


However, Audi's China goal this year is seen as conservative given its strong performance in the first quarter.


Analysts predicted the brand would break the 100,000-unit sales mark in China in 2007, a year ahead of its previous plan for 2008.


Audi's joint venture in China with Volkswagen and local partner First Automotive Works Corp said yesterday that it sold 24,141 Audi vehicles from January to March this year, up 27 percent from a year earlier.


Sales of the Audi A6 large-sized sedan, the company's best-selling model in China, jumped by 31 percent to 16,110 units during the period, it said.


The venture in the northeastern city of Changchun assembles Audi A6 and A4 sedans and markets imported Audi A8, Q7 and TT models. Formed in the early 1990s, it also makes Volkswagen cars.


Weyler said Audi would introduce more new models into China, its most important emerging market, to meet growing demand.


The company plans to launch an A5 coupe, which made its global debut last month in Geneva, in China as an import later this month during the Shanghai International Auto Show.


Audi's China sales in the first three months of this year are estimated to be much larger than those of its arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.


BMW and Mercedes-Benz have not revealed their January-March results in China.


Audi now has more than 120 authorized dealerships in China more than its two competitors. It said earlier that it planned to expand the number to 200 in the future.


The company has 150 spare parts suppliers in China.


Total sales of China-made vehicles grew by a quarter to 7.22 million units last year, including 4.2 million passenger cars, according to industry data.


(China Daily April 3, 2007)


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