FRANKFURT - Volkswagen's premium brand Audi expects its vehicle sales to fall less than previously thought to over 920,000 vehicles this year, Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer told a German newspaper.
The contraction amounts then to eight percent instead of the 10 percent forecast at the beginning of the year, he said in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau published on Friday, raising guidance given only last week.
Audi had said last Friday that sales would exceed 900,000 vehicles, a drop of about 10 percent from its record volume of 1.0 million sold last year that will snap its streak of 13 consecutive annual gains.
For 2010, Schwarzenbauer expects a return to growth, thanks in part to strong sales gains in the U.S. and Chinese markets, the relaunch of the A8 and the rollout of two new models, the A7 and the A1.
We will however only reach the 2008 volume of 1 million vehicles again in two to three years' time, from today's point of view, realistically speaking, he added.
Schwarzenbauer reaffirmed he expects to significantly exceed his target to sell 200,000 vehicles in China in 2015.
We now expect to be able to sell roughly 250,000 vehicles already in 2013, he explained.
Speaking briefly about GM's shock decision to reverse a sale of a majority stake in its Opel unit to Magna at the last minute following months of negotiations, Schwarzenbauer said the worst thing for sales is for customers to not know for an entire year what will happen to a brand. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)