Daimler aims for huge sales boost in China

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German auto maker Daimler wants to boost sales in China to 300,000 vehicles a year by 2015 while ramping up production there, company head Dieter Zetsche said.

"We're looking to sell 300,000 cars in China in 2015," Zetsche told the magazine Auto Zeitung in extracts from an interview that is to be published on October 22.

He added that he hoped that at least 200,000 of the 300,000 cars sold would have been produced in China. The company is planning to invest 3.0 billion euros (4.2 billion dollars) to strengthen its production capacity in China.

Daimler in the first nine months of 2010 sold 102,100 of its Mercedes-Benz models in China, a near 125 percent increase over the same period last year.

Zetsche said that China, where an expanding middle class has proved to be a profitable market for high-end cars, should eclipse Germany and the United States as Daimler's leading market in the next few years.

"Perhaps in 2015, perhaps a year later," Zetsche predicted.

German groups Audi and BMW currently out-sell Daimler in China.

Audi hopes to sell more than 200,000 cars in the country this year and around 300,000 starting in 2012 or a year later.

BMW since January has sold 122,00 vehicles in China.

© 2010 AFP

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