INGOLSTADT, GERMANY – Audi AG Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said that the automaker is in talks with parent Volkswagen AG over building a new plant in North America and reiterated Audi’s target of selling more than 1 million cars this year for the first time, according to


In March, Stadler had said that Audi would also consider setting up a plant on its own in the dollar zone, noting that production would start in 2010 at the earliest as Audi “won’t make any hasty decisions.”

Car sales are expected to be fueled in coming months by the revamped version of Audi’s best-selling A4 model, which was first shown at the Frankfurt auto show in September and is currently being rolled out globally. The new A4 model along with the new A5 coupe are cornerstones of Audi’s plan to narrow the gap with its two German premium-brand peers. Audi hopes to outpace BMW AG (BMW.XE) and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand and reach annual sales of 1.5 million cars by 2015.


Audi enjoyed strong growth in recent years, especially in Asia and Europe, but is still lagging behind its German peers in terms of sales in the U.S. market. Audi aims to boost its U.S. sales to 200,000 in 2015 from 93,506 in 2007.


Stadler said Audi plans to have up to 12 dealerships in India by the end of this year and increase the number of Chinese dealerships to 132, from 125 currently. And, a 90 more will be added in China by 2012.


In the first four months of the year, Audi’s sales were up 1.7 percent compared with the same period last year at around 338,000 cars, with demand in Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific markets fostering growth. Audi expects markets such as China, India, and Russia to maintain strong growth momentum this year as the United States, Western Europe, and
Japan are expected to stagnate or decline, according to


Last month, Audi said first-quarter operating profit rose 28% on the year, driven by an improved model mix, lower costs, and higher car sales. Along with rising car sales, Audi expects productivity gains and better efficiency to translate into higher revenue and profitability in full-year 2008.