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UPDATE 1-VW to push electric cars in China as market opens

* VW 2014 China group sales may exceed 3.5 mln cars -CEO

* VW electric Up, Golf models to kick off sales in 2014

* VW to boost Chinese dealerships 50 percent to 3,600 in 2018 (Adds detail on electric-car plans, CEO comment and background)

By Jan Schwartz and Andreas Cremer

BEIJING, April 19 (Reuters) – Volkswagen will keep expanding Chinese operations and start selling battery-powered cars in the biggest auto market as the country rewards electric-vehicle buyers to tackle air pollution.

VW said on Saturday it will add capacity in its top market, the destination of over a third of its 2.4 million first-quarter group deliveries, as economic stimulus measures and demand in China’s interior regions fuel sales.

VW group deliveries may increase to over 3.5 million cars this year, a record, from 3.27 million in 2013, Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said at a company event.

The German group, one of the first global automakers to establish production facilities in China during the 1980s, will push its environmental credentials as China moves to upgrade the economy and shift the focus away from heavy industry.
More reuters.com

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