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VW's Audi, Porsche to keep growing after top 2013 sales

Worker closes engine bonnet of a new Porsche 918-Spyder sports car at the production line of the German car manufacturer's plant in Stuttgar
Worker closes engine bonnet of a new Porsche 918-Spyder sports car at the production line of the German car manufacturer's plant in Stuttgar

By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen's flagship luxury car brands Audi and Porsche aim to keep sales growing this year helped by overseas demand and new models, after posting record deliveries in 2013.

Double-digit volume growth in the United States and China, which Audi and Porsche both list among their top three markets, gave a boost to the VW-owned divisions ahead of the Detroit auto show next week.

Porsche increased sales of models such as the iconic 911 sports car and the top-selling Cayenne SUV 14.9 percent last year to 162,145 autos. The brand is awaiting another boost from the new Macan compact SUV, to hit German showrooms in April.

"We're entering the new year with a great deal of confidence," Porsche sales chief Bernhard Maier said on Thursday during a conference call.

"We did anything but terminate our product offensive in 2013."

Porsche's goal to boost worldwide deliveries to more than 200,000 cars - originally set for 2018 - may be reached this year, market researcher IHS Automotive said, citing demand for the Macan. Porsche plans to produce 50,000 Macans per year.

Audi, the world's second-largest maker of premium cars, pushed up global deliveries 8.3 percent last year to 1.57 million, after December deliveries alone surged 18.4 percent.

The Ingolstadt-based carmaker, which together with Porsche accounts for almost two thirds of VW's 8.56 billion-euro ($11.64 billion) nine-month operating profit, has a goal of replacing BMW as luxury-sales champion by about 2020, when it targets 2 million deliveries.

"We have comfortably surpassed our mid-term goal of 1.5 million deliveries," Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said in a statement on Thursday.

The advance of Audi and Porsche is proving a boon to parent VW which aims to surpass Toyota <7203.T> and General Motors as the world's largest carmaker no later than 2018.

But three years after surpassing rival Mercedes-Benz as runner-up on premium sales, Audi may return to third place this year, IHS Automotive said.

Audi's global sales may grow only 4.4 percent in 2014 to 1.66 million cars and SUVs, narrowly behind Mercedes which is seen posting a 7.7 percent gain to 1.67 million autos, the market researcher said.

BMW sales may grow 7.4 percent to 1.77 million cars, keeping the Munich-based company in the top luxury slot.

"Audi and Porsche are clearly poised for further growth but the market environment isn't getting any more comfortable," said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management think-tank near Cologne. ($1 = 0.7353 euros)

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Ruth Pitchford)

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