Audi sold more than 516,000 cars worldwide in the first six months of this year, 2% above its target for the period.

This was1.4% up on the same period in 2007 and a record for Audi. Despite falling demand in western Europe and the US, growth was fuelled by Asia-Pacific and eastern Europe.

Asia-Pacific sales were up 19.9% to 78,900 cars. China sales rose 22.8% ti 60,509.

Eastern Europe volume rose 15.1% to 22,400. Russian sales rose 19.1% to 8,660.

Audi said it expected significant growth in the second half of the year, thanks to the launches of important high-volume models.

"In 2008 we will achieve record sales of more than 1m cars for the first time in our history," said chairman Rupert Stadler. "The first half of the year was marked by major model changes for us, yet we're already 2% above target." Audi sold 964,151 cars in 2007.

Volume so far this year has been affected by some high volume model changeovers. The A4 was launched at the beginning of the year and the Avant version followed in May.

Updates are coming for both A3 and A6 model lines and are expected to provide further impetus for sales growth in coming months.

"We will launch the updated A3 in July. For the A4, important new engine versions in the mid-performance range are on their way and, in September, sales start in the US," said sales and marketing chief Peter Schwarzenbauer. Later in the year, Audi will also introduce the new Q5 mid-size SUV and updated A6.

"We will reap the rewards of this product initiative in the fourth quarter," added Schwarzenbauer.

Audi said it has the youngest model range in the industry. By 2015, it wants to expand its range from the current 26 to 40 models.