INGOLSTADT, Germany -- The luxury Audi unit of Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen said on Tuesday pre-tax profit slipped around five percent in 2002 as unfavorable exchange rates and high development costs took their toll.
Pre-tax profit fell to 1.25 billion euros ($1.35 billion) last year from 1.32 billion in 2001, although net profit was 4.7 percent higher at a record 587 million euros.
"In very difficult economic circumstances Audi has proved again the potential of the marque. We will shift up a gear again," Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement ahead of the company's annual news conference.
Audi, which generates around a quarter of parent group VW's profit, is expecting an eighth straight year of record sales in 2003, with strong growth seen in the United States in particular.
Audi said its investment spending had risen 12 percent last year to 2.41 billion euros, most of it going towards new models.
The company is launching an updated A3 hatchback later this year, and is also hoping to lift U.S. sales in the longer term with a production version of the Pikes Peak Quattro concept vehicle it unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January.
Deliveries of Audi brand cars rose 2.2 percent to 742,128 units worldwide, although the company struggled in a weak German market, where deliveries fell 4.4 percent. Revenues for the year rose 2.6 percent to 22.6 billion euros.