Asia Pulse reports that Volkswagen Group is speeding up its investment in China to protect its position as market leader in the world’s fastest-growing car market.

The company plans to invest one billion euros (US$943.6 million) in China this year to build new manufacturing facilities and introduce new models, said Zhang Suixin, general manager of Volkswagen (China) Investment Co, according to Asia Pulse.

The report adds that the new plan comes three months after Volkswagen announced it would increase its investment by 600 million euros (US$566.2 million) annually by 2006.

In the Asia Pulse report, Zhang was quoted as saying that the annual production capacity of Shanghai Volkswagen, the German company’s joint venture with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, will increase to 500,000 to 600,000 units this year from 300,000 units in 2002.

Also, FAW Volkswagen, the group’s other joint venture with the First Automotive Works Corp., will have an annual capacity of 300,000 units this year, up from 150,000 units last year.

Asia-Pulse said that Volkswagen’s new product portfolio this year will include the Gol, Audi A4, Golf, Notchback Polo and Touran multi-purpose vehicle.