* Audi plans car sales of around half a million in China
* Aims for 500 Chinese dealers by 2017, from 341 last year
(Adds quotes, details)
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING, April 18 Volkswagen's
luxury division Audi plans to sell about half a million cars
this year in China, the world's biggest auto market, and raise
the number of its Chinese dealers to 500 by 2017.
The German automaker hopes its car sales will exceed 500,000
this year, executives told reporters on Friday before the
Beijing auto show, which opens on Sunday.
Foreign auto makers, such as General Motors Co and
Toyota Motor Corp, and domestic players such as SAIC
Motor Corp have been competing aggressively in
China, where rising affluence is boosting car ownership.
"This country has an increasing number of mega cities," Audi
Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said, naming Beijing, Shanghai
and Guangzhou as examples. "In these three areas, there are as
many people as, for example, in Germany."
In 2013, Audi sold 488,000 vehicles in China and a total of
492,000 including Hong Kong. Executives said it aimed to take
advantage of the increasing popularity of SUVs and rising demand
for compact premium cars.
China's auto market is expected to grow 8-10 percent this
year, easing from last year when it expanded 13.9 percent to
21.98 million vehicles.
Audi is stepping up efforts to unseat German rival BMW
as global luxury-car sales leader.
Recovering European demand and Chinese growth pushed its
deliveries to a record in the January-March quarter.
Audi's total deliveries rose 11.7 percent to 412,850 cars,
with a 21 percent gain in China after the carmaker started
assembly of the A3 sportback model at a factory in Foshan in
(Writing by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)