Audi sales to beat target, resume German growth image

Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury cars division said sales will probably fall less than expected this year, boosted by fresh models and cash-for-clunkers payments that encourage people to scrap older autos and buy new ones.

Global deliveries may exceed a target of 900,000 vehicles that was reiterated on Oct. 9, Audi brand sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said in a telephone interview. That would mean a decline of less than 10 percent compared with last year.

Sales in Germany will likely return to “light growth” in 2010, even as analysts predict Europe’s biggest auto market will suffer the deepest slump among western economies as scrapping incentives expire, the executive said. Demand will be encouraged by the new A1 small car, the A7 Coupe and a revamped A8 sedan.

“Germany will be a difficult market next year but we’re confident we can resist the downward trend,” Schwarzenbauer said from his office in Ingolstadt, Germany.

Volkswagen rose as much as 2 percent to 118.85 euros and was trading at 118.64 euros as of 10:08 a.m. in Frankfurt. Shares of Europe’s largest carmaker have declined 53 percent so far this year.

Audi last year lifted sales 4.1 percent for a 13th straight annual increase. That contrasted with declines at competitors Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG as the recession caused the most severe shrinkage in car markets in decades.

Schwarzenbauer’s projections of a return to growth in Germany in 2010 come after Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said Sept. 11 that auto sales there might plunge 27 percent to 2.7 million next year from 3.7 million in 2009.