Martin Winterkorn, chairman-designate of the board of management at Volkswagen, has said he is sure the group will meet is 2008 profit goal of EUR5.1bn ($US6.5bn).

He was speaking to Bloomberg News in an interview at the Beijing motor show which opened on Saturday.

The EUR5.1bn profit goal was set last year by Pischetsrieder (whom Winterkorn replaces from 1 January). Since then, Pischetsrieder has also set new conditions for improved labour productivity and introduced new models to increase sales.

Wintekorn himself has an impressive resume. Since he took the unit’s helm in March 2002, Audi sales have risen 18% to EUR26.6bn last year from EUR22.6bn in 2002. This year, Audi is forecasting record sales and profit and Winterkorn has targeted sales of over a million vehicles in 2008, according to Bloomberg.

Key to his success has been his obsession with quality and technology, and this could prove useful for further reducing production costs at Volkswagen.

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Winterkorn is a close ally of Ferdinand Piech, head of the Volkswagen supervisory board, but also influential because his family owns Porsche, which is Volkswagen’s largest shareholder.

Last week Porsche said it had increased its stake in VW to 27.4% and that it may increase it further to 29.9%.