Volkswagen’s incoming chief financial officer said on Tuesday that the company expected a significant improvement in profit and unit sales next year after launching its latest Golf, Reuters reported.

“We will significantly increase our operating profit in 2004,” CFO designate Hans Dieter Poetsch told Reuters at the Frankfurt motor show. He also reportedly said unit sales would be noticeably higher than the five million vehicles VW expects to sell in 2003.

However, Reuters noted, he declined to specify if the earnings forecast meant the company would beat the €4.76 billion ($US5.27 billion) in operating profit it posted in 2002.

VW is launching the new Golf with hopes it will reverse its fortunes after a year of sliding profits and falling market share, the news agency noted.

According to Reuters, VW wants to sell at least 600,000 of the new Golf V models next year and says each one will earn it more money than its predecessor. The car traditionally accounts for more than a third of unit sales and around half of profits at the VW brand, the report added.

Poetsch also told Reuters there was a good chance the firm’s third-quarter operating earnings would be better than in the first two quarters if costs for restructuring in Brazil were ignored though, including those charges, the operating result would be worse.

Asked if the one-off charge would run into the hundreds of millions of euros, he reportedly said: “I would not contradict you” but declined to comment further.