FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Audi is reviewing its 2015 target of selling 600,000 cars in China, the latest sign that a downturn in demand for passenger cars in the world's biggest car market is more severe than automakers expected.
Last year Audi sold 578,900 cars in China, a rise of almost 18 percent compared with a year earlier.
Audi's sales performance in China has dramatically worsened over the past seven months, with delivery growth steadily plunging from 30 percent last December to 0.2 percent in April, before sliding into the red in May and June, when sales sank 5.8 percent.
Audi said at the Shanghai auto show in April that its annual sales in China were poised to reach 600,000 for the first time in 2015.
Audi's Chinese sales rose 1.9 percent to 273,853 cars in the first half. "We are monitoring the market very closely and anticipate further growth in the mid- and long term," the company said in an e-mailed response to questions.
"Basically Audi are saying that the rest of the year will be pretty much flat," Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst at Evercore ISI, said in a note. After more than tripling its Chinese deliveries since 2009, the brand is facing the slowdown as its best-selling A4 sedan is aging, he said. It will present a revamped version of the A4 in September.
Audi said it would provide an update on its sales target for China when it publishes financial results for the first half on July 30.
This week, Brilliance China Automotive, BMW's local joint venture partner, said it expects profits to fall by 40 percent in the first half mainly because of sluggish demand for BMW's cars in a sign that even the strongest brands are starting to suffer.
Last week the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reduced its 2015 vehicle sales growth forecast to 3 percent from 7 percent previously, leaving carmakers like Volkswagen potentially exposed.
Bloomberg contributed to this report