Volkswagen China JV to raise output 18 pct in 2003

SHANGHAI, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG plans to produce 330,000 vehicles at one of its two main auto ventures in China this year, up 18 percent from 2002, a top official at the German company's Chinese partner said on Tuesday.

Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co Ltd, a 50-50 venture between Volkswagen and China's number two carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), had just begun producing its new Gol compact sedan, SAIC chairman Chen Xianglin told Reuters.

"We plan to push more products onto the market this year," Chen said on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the launch of his gearbox joint venture with Volkswagen in Shanghai.

"The price of the Gol would be around 80,000 yuan," around $9,600, but the final price had yet to be finalized, he said.

The Gol would be one of the cheapest foreign-made cars in China, one of the world's fastest-growing markets and a focus for most major automakers in a time of depressed global sales. ($1=8.276 Yuan)