SHANGHAI -- Brilliance China Automotive Holdings said on Tuesday its minivan joint venture increased sales by 30 percent year on year in the first four months of 2003.
It sold 25,000 minivans between January and April, spokesman Jason Yang told Reuters. Sales topped 8,000 in April, a new record, he added.
Brilliance makes minivans and cars in a 51-percent-owned joint venture with Shenyang Jinbei Automotive.
"We also sold 11,000 Zhonghua sedans over the same period," Yang said.
It aims to sell up to 35,000 Zhonghuas in 2003, a target analysts had doubted would be achievable.
The firm expects the car operation, which lost 250-300 million yuan ($30-36 million) in 2002, to be profitable this year. A basic Zhonghua costs just under 170,000 yuan.
"We intend to maintain our 60 percent share of China's minivan market this year," Yang said, declining to give a sales forecast. "This year, the sales trend will remain very strong."
Brilliance sold more than 65,000 minivans in 2002 and more than 8,800 Zhonghua cars, which hit the market in August.
On Tuesday, the company launched its new 2.0 litre Zhonghua, which will sell for 186,600 yuan, about 23,000 yuan less than one of its main competitors -- Volkswagen AG's Passat.
Brilliance posted a 28-percent drop in 2002 net profit to 651 million yuan, blamed on its entry into the sedan market.
The company recently struck a deal with BMW to produce the German firm's luxury cars in China late this year.