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Volkswagen shines in China, crumbles in Europe

German car group Volkswagen was able to boost sales in the first half of 2013 despite the ongoing car crisis in Europe and challenging markets elsewhere. Thanks to China, the carmaker still shines amid the gloom.

Unit sales in the first half of 2013 grew to 4.7 million cars - up 5.5 percent compared with the same six-month period of 2012, Volkswagen (VW) announced on Friday.

Overseas markets such as China - where sales grew 18.7 percent - and North America, up 12.3 percent, contributed most to a result described as satisfactory by VW sales chief Christian Klingler.

Sales made progress even though market conditions were not easy amid a tense economic climate, notably in Europe, Klingler said in a statement.

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Between January and June, VW deliveries to markets in Europe slumped 3.5 percent to 1.87 million vehicles as many countries, especially in the 18-member eurozone, remain stuck in recession.

However, the drop in Europe was more than offset by booming demand overseas.  

The group's VW brand saw strongest growth in China where it boosted first-half sales by 4.4 percent to 2.9 million cars. China growth was also significant for VW's high-end brand, Audi, which sold 6.4 percent more in the Asian country, boosting sales to 780,500 units.

In addition, worldwide demand for Porsche luxury sports cars, which also belong to the 12-brand VW group, remained strong with 81,600 units sold in the period.

On Friday, Volkswagen also announced that it would seek to open five new car plants in China still this year. The factories are part of the car group's investment plan aimed at opening a total of seven new production facilities for cars and components in the Asian country.

Currently, VW produces 20 models of its Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi brands in China. By 2015, the company's China-made production is to be boosted to 30 models, possibly including some of its Seat brand.

uhe/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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