Skoda Auto posts record sales

Skoda Auto, a Czech brand of German auto giant Volkswagen, said on Thursday that first-quarter sales rose by 11.8 percent from the level at the same time last year to a record of 242,700 cars, with a boost from China and India.

The car maker said in a statement it had set another all-time high in March when it raised monthly sales by 12.1 percent on a 12-month basis to a record 95,200 units.

"Bucking the trend, we managed to raise sales in the difficult conditions of the global market," said Juergen Stackmann, Skoda Auto board member in charge of sales and marketing.

"In the coming months, we will... expand the range of our models with new, attractive cars," he added.

The company founded in 1895, which sold a record-high 879,200 units in 2011, raised sales in western and eastern Europe including Russia, and posted record sales volumes in China and India in the first quarter.

In China, Skoda Auto sold more than 59,200 cars in the first quarter, up 8.9 percent from the figure a year ago, while Indian clients bought more than 11,500 Skoda cars, a growth of 40 percent.

The top-selling model in the first quarter was Skoda Octavia with 109,400 units sold, ahead of the smaller Skoda Fabia model with 67,800 units.

Skoda said earlier it expected to raise global sales to 1.5 million units by 2018.

Skoda Auto is the biggest car maker in the Czech Republic, where the economy is heavily dependent on the car industry which made up 21 percent of total industrial output and 22 percent of all exports in 2010.

The other large car producers are TPCA, a joint venture of Japan's Toyota with France's PSA Peugeot-Citroen, and South Korea's Hyundai.

The three plants raised combined output by 11.44 percent on an annual basis to a record-high 1,194,981 units last year.

The Czech Republic, a country of 10.5 million which joined the European Union in 2004, posted 1.7-percent economic growth for 2011, fuelled by exports from the three car makers and local car parts producers.

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