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Skoda plans China expansion

VOLKSWAGEN-OWNED Skoda Auto said China has the opportunity to beat Germany as its biggest market next year, benefiting from a more complete product mix and government stimulus measures.

The car maker plans to introduce one model a year to China over the next few years to expand into its fastest-growing market, maintaining the pace it has kept since entering the Chinese market three years ago, Skoda board member Fred Kappler told Shanghai Daily.

Double-digit growth in its dealer network is also being planned for this year. It currently has 200 dealers in 104 cities nationwide, Kappler said.

Last year, Skoda sold 59,000 vehicles in China, an increase of 170 percent from a year earlier.

This compared to 7-percent sales growth worldwide.

"The China market is growing fast, despite the difficult economic circumstances," said Kappler. "Next year, we are sure to have six-digit sales volumes, which could make China our biggest market."

At Auto Shanghai 2009, Skoda unveiled its Superb sedan. The model will be manufactured in Shanghai by Shanghai Volkswagen, and domestic sales will begin in the third quarter.

Skoda began selling its Skoda Octavia sedan in 2007, then introduced its Skoda Fabia economy sedan at the end of last year to meet the rising demand of small cars.

"We are still expanding our customer base, and the government stimulus package will continue to encourage new buyers," Kappler said.


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