BERLIN (Reuters) - German luxury automaker Audi plans to keep spending on new vehicles, plants and technology to increase market share as a prolonged weakening in European markets forces layoffs and factory closures at volume manufacturers.
The division of Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) said on Thursday it would spend 13 billion euros ($17.2 billion) through 2016 on global operations, with more than half or 8 billion earmarked for its two main Germany-based plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
Planned investments will also sustain Audi's foreign expansion as the company sets up factories in Mexico and China and makes additions to plants in Hungary and China.
"We have no plans to take the foot off the accelerator, because when the crisis is over, there will be another recovery," Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said in an interview at Audi's Ingolstadt headquarters.
Wolfsburg-based parent VW already said on November 23 it would invest 50.2 billion euros on products, plants and equipment over the next three years as it strives to replace Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's biggest auto maker by 2018 at the latest.
By stepping up investments on products and technology, VW could consolidate its lead over stricken Mediterranean peers PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) and Fiat FIA.MI, which have slowed or shelved whole vehicle programs, engine technologies and platform revamps while grappling with high fixed costs in a shrinking European market.
Audi (NSUG.DE), which aims to boost global deliveries to over 2 million cars and SUVs by 2020 as it aims to snatch the luxury sales crown from rival BMW (BMWG.DE), said it would spend over 10.5 billion euros over the next four years on upgrading and expanding its product portfolio and new technologies such as lightweight construction and electric drives.
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editing by Jane Baird