Dow Jones reports that Volkswagen AG is optimistic about a turnaround in the German passenger car market.

Citing VW executive Detlef Wittig as source, Dow Jones reported that the executive told investors earlier this week, “We expect it to pick up in the second half of this year.”

Speaking at a Deutsche Bank conference in Frankfurt, Wittig said a slew of new models to be launched in 2003, including the compact minivan Touran, should help drive consumers to the show rooms, Dow Jones reported.

In Germany car demand is being constrained by economic problems and weak consumer confidence. The umeployment rate recently hit a 5-year high (11%). The new car market declined by over 2% last year to 3.2 million units.