BEIJING, Aug 23 --The first international luxury brand to produce cars in China - it assembled 499 autos in 1988 - Germany's Audi AG now plans to more than double its lineup over the next five years as demand in the premium segment continues to surge.
Johannes Thammer, Audi's sales chief in China, told China Daily recently that the company will have 35 locally made or imported models in China in 2015, up from 16 this year.
Audi now produces the A6L and A4L sedans along with the Q5 sports-utility vehicle at its joint venture in northeastern city of Changchun with its parent Volkswagen Group and China's pioneering carmaker FAW Group. It also imports the A3, A5, Q5, A8, Q7, R8, S5 and some variants to China.
Thammer said Audi expects to sell more than 200,000 cars in China this year, two or three years ahead of its previous sales target. The company also plans to move 250,000 cars annually in China by 2015.
In the first half of this year, Audi's China sales surged by 64 percent year-on-year to 108,600 units, making the country its biggest single market, surpassing even its home market Germany.
More than half of its sales in the first six months came from its A6L sedan.
Audi's major rivals - BMW and Mercedes-Benz - are also registering blistering sales growth in China.
BMW sold 71,146 cars in China in the first six months, up 98 percent, while Mercedes-Benz's sales more than doubled to 58,600 units.
Propelled by the nation's steady economic growth and expanding middle class, China's luxury car market has vast potential.
Thammer said the luxury segment will continue to grow faster than the entire passenger car market in the second half of this year.
In the first half, luxury vehicles in China jumped by 92 percent to 310,000 units.
The rate was much higher than 46 percent of growth of the whole passenger car market.