VW CEO warns of 'very demanding year' ahead

HAMBURG, April 19 Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:03am EDT

HAMBURG, April 19 (Reuters) - German car maker Volkswagen is bracing for a "very demanding year" as the European debt crisis weighs on auto markets and global economic growth slows.

"The risks are growing," Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in a speech at VW's annual general meeting on Thursday.

Still, VW remains "cautiously optimistic" for 2012 despite the economic uncertainties, he said, adding the company still aims to increase auto sales and revenue beyond 2011 results.

VW also stood by a forecast to match last year's record operating profit of 11.3 billion euros ($14.83 billion). ($1 = 0.7621 euros) (Reporting By Andreas Cremer)