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A sharp reversal in sales increase

CHINA'S Dongfeng Motor Corp expects its sales growth to reverse by more than 50 percent this year as it projects only a 6-percent increase to 1.4 million units.

Its sales last year totaled a record 1.32 million units after they jumped 16 percent from 2007, the nation's third biggest car maker said.

Xu Ping, general manager of Dongfeng, said the firm's top priority this year would be to maintain its sales growth.

The car maker, based in Wuhan, Hubei Province, will also aim to boost revenue to 200 billion yuan (US$29.4 billion) this year from 197 billion yuan last year.

"We will do whatever we can to continue a healthy growth of our business in the wake of the global financial crisis," said Xu. "The key points focus on eight areas, including operation cost reduction and speeding the development of self-owned technology to help building self-branded passenger cars."

The forecast of a slowdown in sales is not surprising as Dongfeng joined a batch of Chinese car makers which have lowered sales predictions amid an uncertain economic outlook.

Dongfeng Nissan, its venture with Japan's Nissan Motor Corp, plans to boost sales by 10 percent this year after a 33-percent jump last year, said Ren Yong, deputy general manager of the venture.

Lexus, the premier brand under Toyota Motor Corp, said it would be happy if its sales growth could outpace the average 5 percent rise for the luxury car market after seeing a 30-percent growth for last year.

An executive from Guangzhou Honda also said the company's growth would be much lower this year.

China's vehicle sales growth slumped to its 10-year low of 6.7 percent to 9.38 million units last year.


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