VW Group targets 10 million sales this year on model expansion

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BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group may sell more than 10 million vehicles in 2014, four years earlier than planned, as Europe's largest automaker accelerates model introductions in a strategy to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. as the global sales leader.

"There is a good chance we will already reach our 10 million deliveries mark this year," CEO Martin Winterkorn said.

"With rising volume and new models, we will increasingly see positive earnings effects as well," he added during VW Group's annual press conference here today.

VW Group sold 9.72 million vehicles in 2013, which topped General Motors Co.'s  9.71 million, to become the world's second-largest carmaker.

Volkswagen, which has budgeted 84.2 billion euros ($117 billion) in investments through 2018 to pursue a goal of taking the No. 1 spot from Toyota, said it will introduce more than 100 models this year and next, including vehicles for the mass-market VW nameplate and the Audi and Porsche premium marques.

Europe's car market is pulling out of a six-year slump and auto sales in China continue to rise, even as economic growth is set to slow. At the same time, demand has been softening in emerging markets, such as Brazil, Russia and India, that carmakers have targeted for sales growth. Volkswagen is also working to boost U.S. sales at its main brand, which has lagged behind competitors' growth in that market.

New SUVs

Models that Volkswagen is bringing out through 2015 include a new version of the mid-sized VW Passat sedan, variants for the Audi A4 line, a restyled Audi Q7 SUV, the Porsche Macan compact SUV and a plug-in hybrid version of the larger Porsche Cayenne SUV, the company said today.

Profit last year at the VW passenger-vehicle brand fell 21 percent to 2.89 billion euros, the company said today. Porsche earnings almost tripled to 2.58 billion euros from 943 million euros. Audi reported on March 11 that operating profit last year declined 6 percent to 5.03 billion euros.

VW, which published group earnings in February, reiterated that operating profit will amount to 6 percent to 7 percent of sales for 2014, compared with 6 percent last year. Revenue is expected to "move within a range" of 3 percent, while vehicle sales will rise "moderately."

Paul McVeigh contributed to this report

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