Audi CEO sees strong sales growth despite Russia, emerging markets slowdown

Audi believes the new TT coupe, shown, will be a boost to sales when deliveries begin later this year.

MARBELLA, Spain (Reuters) -- Audi expects to sell more than 1.7 million cars this year as China and the U.S. offset lower sales in Russia and other emerging markets, CEO Rupert Stadler said.

Last year, Audi sold 1.58 million vehicles, behind BMW brand, the global No. 1 in premium sales with 1.66 million. Third-placed Mercedes Benz brand sold 1.46 million.

Stadler said established economies are driving sales and emerging markets except China are slowing. Russia, in particular, has been hit because of the Ukraine crisis.

"For the past eight months we have had de facto no growth," Stadler said in reference to Russia. Stadler said Audi raised prices in Russia by between 5 and 6 percent to compensate for the ruble's weakness against the euro.

Overall, Audi had very good sales in August, with strong deliveries in the United States helping to offset weakness elsewhere, Stadler said, speaking at the launch here of the new TT sports car. Audi has yet to release sales figures for August.

Audi, owned by Volkswagen, delivered 1.01 million cars in the first seven months, ahead of Mercedes, which sold 913,500, but behind rival BMW brand with 1.02 million deliveries.

Rebound

Stadler said that he expected business in Brazil and India to rebound eventually, though a recovery in those countries may take longer than expected. He reiterated the company's goal to sell two million vehicles a year by 2020.

Sales are expected to receive a boost when Audi launches a next generation of its TT coupe toward the end of this year, followed by a convertible version, Stadler said.

Audi will also start renewing its larger cars, the A5, A6, A7 and A8 sedans when it launches a new modular assembly kit, known as MLB, next year, Stadler said.

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