Volkswagen expects to significantly exceed last year’s profits due to strong demand for group models in key markets western Europe, China and North America.

The company sold 6.3m vehicles in 2009, generating an operating profit of EUR1.9bn (US$2.4bn). It said exchange rate effects, among other factors, also had a positive impact on January-May profit this year.

Last week, the company said Audi brand sales rose 14.6% year on year to 94,900 units in May, taking sales growth in the first five months to 21.7%. VW is also the largest western carmaker in China where passenger car sales rose 26% in May, the slowest growth rate so far this year, but still significantly ahead of the EU market off 9.3%.