DaimlerChrysler aims to sell 230,000 new A-class compact cars by the end of next year, the company reportedly said on Monday.

The company expects 50,000 units to be sold this year, and another 180,000 in 2005 – its first full year of production, according to Reuters .

“One hundred and eighty thousand is a reasonable number,” Mercedes sales boss Joachim Schmidt reportedly said.

Mercedes Car Group chief Juergen Hubbert later told Reuters that the Rastatt plant’s capacity would allow the company to build up to 300,000 new A-class units a year.

In its most successful year, customers bought nearly 200,000 units of the old A-Class, the smallest branded Mercedes car in the group’s product range, the report noted.

This time around, Hubbert reportedly said, the company would turn a profit too on the snub-nosed compact, after the first generation failed to recoup the costs invested in its production.

Meeting the sales goal would provide a needed boost to Mercedes, which has suffered from falling car sales because of a lack of new models coupled with sluggish demand for cars in Europe, Reuters said.

Mercedes-Benz , DaimlerChrysler’s most profitable brand, reported a 9.2% decline in vehicle deliveries in May, contributing to a 6.2% drop for the first five months this year, the news agency noted.

For 2004, DaimlerChrysler is forecasting stagnant vehicle sales for the Mercedes Car Group as a whole, which also includes the smart and Maybach brands, Reuters said – by comparison, rival BMW said last week it aimed to sell at least 100,000 units of its new 1-series compact hatchback in its first full year of production, boosted sales in May by 12.9% for the core BMW brand, or a total 6.5% in the first five months, and predicts record sales for the brand this year.

Daimler said that it would bring out a brand new “compact sports tourer” model based on the revamped A-class that would arrive at dealerships in 2006, Reuters added.