Honda is forecasting an 8% surge in global auto sales next year as demand for its cars grows in all key markets.

The Associated Press (AP) said Honda Motor expects its global sales to grow to a record 3.4 million vehicles in 2005 after selling 3.16 million vehicles in 2004, up 9% from the previous year.

Honda plans to sell 5% more vehicles in North America next year at 1.45 million vehicles, with a new light truck model and the redesigned Civic compact, chief executive Takeo Fukui told AP, which noted that the company sold nearly 1.38 million vehicles there in 2004, up 2% from 2003.

Honda also is predicting sales to edge up 4% in Japan to 770,000 vehicles next year, after inching up 1% this year, Fukui reportedly said.

Having entered the booming Chinese market relatively early for a Japanese carmaker, Honda is recording robust sales growth in China, up 73% this year to 218,000 vehicles from the previous year, the report noted, adding that sales will grow in Europe to 275,000 vehicles, up from 253,000 this year, according to Honda.