Audi braces for stagnation in Europe, hopes for China growth-CEO

SHANGHAI Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:27am EDT

Hub caps for Audi A3 are pictured next to the production line of the German car manufacturer's plant in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Hub caps for Audi A3 are pictured next to the production line of the German car manufacturer's plant in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt March 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Michaela Rehle

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Germany's Audi (VOWG_p.DE) is bracing for long stagnation in Europe, though trusts that continued growth in China will help offset slumping auto demand in its core region, its CEO said on Saturday.

It will take at least three to five years until European countries will have fully overcome their debt problems, Rupert Stadler told reporters at the Shanghai auto show.

By contrast, China's passenger car market could in future grow to 20 or 25 million autos per year from about 12 or 13 million, also boosting business of premium manufacturers, the CEO said.

"Audi keeps growing," Stadler said, declining to be more specific. The VW-owned brand will "soon" increase dealerships in the world's biggest car market to about 500 from 300, sales chief Luca der Meo added.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer, Editing by Ron Popeski)