The chairman of Guangzhou Automobile Group has said he was optimistic about demand for motor vehicles in China in the long term.

China’s population and its urbanisation will support long-term demand, Zhang Fangyou told Dow Jones on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia, a meeting of government officials and company executives on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

“Market demand is still rising and I am confident in the industry,” he said. “I won’t let the short-term moderation of sales impact my faith in the industry.”

Motor-vehicle sales rose 2.5% in China last year to 18.51m units after rising 32.4% in 2010 and 46.0% in 2009.

Guangzhou Automobile maintains a capacity target of 3m vehicles a year by 2015, Zhang said, but added that the company may adjust its product line according to customer demand.

China’s motor vehicle sales will likely grow a little faster than gross domestic product, he said. China’s government has set a GDP-growth target of 7.5% for 2012.

“China’s economic fundamentals are good,” Zhang said, adding that consumer “inertia” and the habit of buying cars remain and will bolster motor vehicle sales this year.

Zhang added that he expects sales growth at Guangzhou Automobile to exceed the industry average this year. Production last year was affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.