INGOLSTADT - Audi AG expects to post record sales and profits this year, helped by strong demand for its upper-range A6 and A8 sedans.
First-half pretax profits for the Volkswagen subsidiary climbed 64.5 percent to DM804 million ($442 million), compared with a year earlier. Sales revenue rose 26.6 percent to DM13.4 billion.
The A6 made the biggest contribution to the improved results, said Audi Chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen. Sales of the mid-luxury sedan, which competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-class and BMW 5 series, rose 69 percent to 35,841 in the first half. Sales of the larger A8 increased 18.6 percent to 4,359.
Paefgen predicted record revenue of DM25 billion for the whole year, compared with DM22.4 billion in 1997.
Worldwide unit sales rose 10 percent to 303,077, compared with the same period in 1997.
The Asian economic crisis led to a 15.9 percent decline in Japan to 4,978. Sales in Germany, Audi's biggest market, were down 0.2 percent to 121,638.
Sales in the USA rose 19.9 percent to 20,410, and sales in western Europe outside Germany increased 21.4 percent to 134,699.
Audi increased its workforce by 7.7 percent in the period to 37,732.