BERLIN Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) luxury unit Audi may reach its goal of selling 1.5 million cars per year earlier than planned thanks to unbroken demand from China, the United States and Russia.
The manufacturer, which so far expected to reach its target in 2015, boosted four-month deliveries 11.7 percent to 471,300 cars and sport-utility vehicles.
"The way things look at the moment, we may be able to reach this target earlier," Chief Executive Rupert Stadler told the annual shareholder meeting in Ingolstadt, Germany on Thursday.
Audi sold 1.3 million autos in 2011 and has pledged to outsell the global car market again in 2012, which it expects to expand by 4 percent.
Audi outsold luxury market leader Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMWG.DE) for the first time in more than a year in April. The VW division is vying with Daimler's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz, which it surpassed last year, to grab the luxury sales lead by the end of the decade.
Audi may match last year's record operating profit of 5.35 billion euros ($6.92 billion) this year if economies don't slump, Chief Financial Officer Axel Strotbek said in a separate speech on Thursday, reiterating comments made previously.
Stadler said Audi is targeting double-digit growth in auto sales in China and the United States this year and expects European deliveries to at least match year-ago levels despite slowing economic growth in the home region.
Audi plans to increase the rollout of new models or updated vehicles to 18 this year from 12 in 2011, the CEO said, helping a goal to increase full-year deliveries and revenue. ($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Reporting By Andreas Cremer)