This year will be at least as challenging as last year,” Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said. image

Although VW’s Audi reported better than expected financial results for 2012, it warns about the economic environment for 2013.

Audi sold 1.46 million vehicles worldwide in 2012, an increase of 11.7% compared with 2011. Revenue also increased 10.6% to 48.8 billion euro, but operating return on sales dropped 11% from 12.1% in 2011 and tax profit dropped 2% to 4.35 million euro. Audi said it will transfer 3.79 million euro from its profit to parent company VW, an increase from 3.14 million euro offered in 2011.

Still Audi expects a challenging economic environment this year in Europe, where sales in Spain have dropped to levels seen in 1979. Audi hopes to reach an 8%-10% operating return on sales in 2013 compared with 11% in 2012.

“This year will be at least as challenging as last year,” Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said.

In January and February, Audi’s sales increased 9.4%, but the automaker will keep investing in capacity to reach its goal of selling 2 million vehicles annually by 2020. The company expects to reach the 1.5 million milestone by 2015 after is has increased capacity with 360,000 vehicles over the past two years. Over the next three years , Audi will invest a record 10 billion euro, 5.3 billion to be invested in Germany.