FRANKFURT -- Europe's biggest car maker, Volkswagen (IW 1000/7), is set to sell more than 10-million vehicles this year, chief executive Martin Winterkorn said on Thursday.
"There is a good chance that we will already exceed the ten million deliveries mark this year -- four years earlier than originally planned," Winterkorn told the group's annual earnings news conference.
VW "made a healthy start to 2014," Winterkorn said.
In the first two months, about 1.5 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles were delivered worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 4.7%.
This year and next year, VW -- with a wide range of brands including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Scania and MAN -- would launch more than 100 new models, successors and product enhancements, he continued.
In 2013, worldwide deliveries rose by 4.9% to 9.7 million vehicles.
Revenues were up 2.2% at 197 billion euros and operating profit reached a record 11.7 billion euros.
Bottom-line profit, on the other hand, fell to 9.1 billion euros in 2013 from 21.9 billion euros a year earlier, largely because the 2012 figure had been positively impacted by measures in connection with the integration of sports car maker Porsche.
"2013 was an extremely challenging year for European automakers in particular. We weren't helped either by our home market or by exchange rates. Nevertheless, the Volkswagen group put up a strong showing despite the difficult conditions," Winterkorn said.
And "in light of the company's continued success, the management board will propose an increased dividend of 4.00 euros per ordinary share and 4.06 euros per preference share," it said.
"Despite the persistently challenging market environment," Winterkorn said he was "guardedly confident" about business development in the rest of 2014.
"We are expecting a moderate increase in deliveries," he said.
Challenges would come from the difficult market environment and fierce competition, as well as interest rate and exchange rate volatility and fluctuations in raw materials prices, Winterkorn said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014