Robert Bosch expects higher worldwide car demand and the diesel boom in Europe to boost sales and earnings this year, a report said.

Chief executive Franz Fehrenbach said the company’s sales margin had risen to about 5% last year from 4.1% in 2002 due largely to a stronger performance at the vehicle technology business, according to Reuters, which noted that the unlisted German company also said pre-tax profit rose to about €1.8 billion ($US2.3 billion) in 2003 from 1.4 billion in 2002.

The report added that the stronger euro hurt sales which rose just 4% to 36.3 billion euros while growth would have been greater if the euro had not appreciated so strongly against the US dollar.

Reuters said the Bosch CEO was optimistic about 2004, pointing to the expected rise in global vehicle demand.