German carmaker Volkswagen AG's joint venture with First Automotive Works Corp (FAW) expects its 2007 sales to grow by more than one-third after a strong performance in the first 11 months.
Sales at the venture, FAW Volkswagen Automobile Co, will hit 480,000 cars this year, up from 350,000 units in 2006, said Weiming Soh, the firm's vice-president and marketing and sales chief.
From January to November, the venture, based in the northeastern city of Changchun, moved 424,295 vehicles, surging 34.4 percent from a year ago, it said.
Robust sales have enabled FAW Volkswagen to vault to the top spot in China's increasingly competitive passenger car market, beating Volkswagen's other venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) and US firm General Motors' tie-up with SAIC.
Shanghai Volkswagen sold 397,588 vehicles in the first 11 months, and the GM venture moved 380,816 units, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Soh attributed FAW Volkswagen's success this year largely to its new product launches and more market-oriented reforms in marketing and sales, production, purchasing and management.
For example, sales of the Magotan mid-range sedan, FAW Volkswagen's latest all-new model introduced in July, will reach 30,000 units this year, it said.
The company said its spending on marketing and sales staff training has rocketed by 90 percent this year from 2006.
Soh predicted that overall passenger car sales in China would rise to 5.1 million units this year from 4.2 million units in 2006.
He said the company, a sponsor of the Beijing Olympic Games, will use the event to improve marketing and sales next year.
Other top executives from FAW Volkswagen said earlier that it would offer at least two all-new models annually over the next five years.
Besides the Magotan, the company's line-up now includes the Volkswagen Jetta, Bora, Golf, Caddy and Sagitar as well as the Audi A6 and A4. Audi is a premium brand wholly owned by Volkswagen.
The joint venture has an annual production capacity of more than 600,000 vehicles.
(China Daily December 28, 2007)