BRATISLAVA -- Volkswagen (IW 1000/10) said Thursday that it doubled production at its Slovak plant last year to a record 419,888 cars, and VW Slovakia chief Albrecht Reimold pledged to keep output in top gear this year as well, despite a weak European market.

"We'll seek to sustain the output" and possibly "to raise it," Reimold told journalists in Bratislava.

VW, which is Europe's biggest automaker, had rolled out 210,441 cars at the plant in 2011.

Reimold underscored that "Slovakia is not an island. The global markets are developing in a positive way, while the situation in Europe remains difficult."

VW's Slovakian workforce of 9,400 builds the high-end Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and Audi Q7 sports utility vehicles as well as the small, eco-friendly VW up!, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo at its Bratislava plant, and exports 99.7% of the cars it makes there.

Forty percent go to Germany and almost 10% to China, with the remainder sold on European markets.

The Slovakian auto sector posted record output of 900,000 vehicles in 2012 despite gloom in the European Union -- its key export market.

Aside from VW, the country is also home to plants owned by South Korean Kia Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen of France, which raised their combined output by 40% last year.

The auto sector, which employs 74,000 people in the country of 5.4 million, accounts for 39% of Slovakian gross domestic product (GDP).

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013