Autos News

Volvo Car China eyes over 10 percent sales growth in 2009

BEIJING (Reuters) - Volvo VOLVb.ST expects its China sales growth will accelerate to over 10 percent in 2009, helped by a rebound in consumer sentiment, a senior executive of the Sweden-based automaker said on Thursday.

China’s automobile sales, which surpassed the United States in January to become the world’s largest auto market, jumped 24 percent in February, bouncing back from single digits in 2008, according the country’s official data.

Alexander Klose, chief executive of Volvo Car China, said the company’s sales in China will rise to “way over” 10 percent this year from less than 10 percent in 2008.

“There is more confidence in China now than that was at the end of last year,” Klose said. “Confidence has fairly quickly come back.”

Volvo sold 13,000 cars in China last year, which accounted for roughly 8 percent of its global sales. That figure will rise to close to 10 percent this year, Klose said.

Official data show China vehicle sales topped 800,000 units in February, the first time in eight months, as Beijing’s policy initiatives aimed at boosting consumption lured buyers back to showrooms.

Klose was speaking to reporters after a ceremony marking the launch of its new model S80L, which is being produced in China.

The car is Volvo's flagship sedan and is produced by a joint venture with Chang Automobile 000625.SZ, Mazda Motor 7261.T and Ford Motor F.N, the parent company of Volvo.

Ford Motor, which posted a record $14.7 billion net loss last year, has said it will carry out a strategic review of the Volvo brand, including the possible sale of the Volvo unit.

A few Chinese car makers, including Changan Automobile, Geely Auto 0175.HK and Chery Automobile, are believed to have expressed interest in the Swedish car marker.

($=6.84 yuan)

Reporting by Michael Wei; Editing by Kirby Chien and Ken Wills