Volkswagen Ag., Europe’s largest automaker said its sales in China in 2011 rose 17.7 percent to 2.26 million units.
In comparison, General Motors (GM) said last week that together with its China joint ventures, sales in China rose 8.3% to 2.55 million vehicles in 2011, also a record.
Volkswagen is counting on the world’s most populous nation to drive growth in emerging markets as it seeks to surpass GM and Toyota Motor Corp. for the global sales crown. China is now the largest market for its eponymous marque, premium Audi brand and Lamborghini supercars.
Karl-Thomas Neumann, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group China, said in a statement that the company expects “tougher conditions” in the car industry.
Volkswagen Group China will focus more on developing sales in western China, he added.
The company sold a record 8.156 million vehicles last year globally, a 14 percent rise over 2010. There are some that say that Volkswagen is already the biggest automaker because the figures from GM include vehicles that are produced by a joint venture in China.
A state-run auto industry association on Thursday said annual sales of all cars in China rose by 2.5 per cent to 18.5 million vehicles last year, plunging from 32-per-cent growth in 2010.