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Luxury car maker Audi (NSU.XE) expects sales of its new A3 model to overtake those of the previous edition over its product cycle, sales manager Peter Schwarzenbauer said Tuesday at the Geneva Motor Show.
The company has high hopes for the new A3 hatchback sedan, expecting strong sales in the U.S., where hatchbacks are highly popular, as well as in China. It first presented the concept last year in Geneva. Chief Executive Rupert Stadler earmarked 2013 for the market entry of the hatchback sedan.
Alongside the A6 and the A4, the A3 is one of Audi's most important models that attracts new young customers and builds brand loyalty.
Sales of the current A3 model remained stable last year, with around 187,000 deliveries, although sales usually drop significantly ahead of a new release.
Delivery to customers still takes several months, a sign of buoyant demand outpacing production capacity.
The A3 has been a success story for Audi. The car maker, which is part of Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE), sold its first A3 model in 1996, and started selling the current A3 generation in 2003. Since then, around 2.7 million A3s have hit the tarmac, with the second edition selling twice as well as the first.
The A3 is available as three-and five-door models, sports versions, convertibles, and the Q3 SUV version.
In 2011, Audi had vehicle sales of 1.3 million, topping rival Mercedes-Benz. While it remains behind BMW AG (BMW.XE) in terms of sales, Audi aims to close the gap and surpass BMW in the coming years.
Stadler confirmed Audi plans to grow faster than the market in 2012. Audi expects to grow even in Europe, where most sector experts forecast declining sales.
-By Nico Schmidt, Dow Jones Newswires: +49 69 297 25 114; email@example.com