* Market to grow to 3 mln cars/year in decade's time -CEO
* Rising personal wealth, entrepreneurs behind growth -CEO
* Audi is China's best-selling premium car brand
(Adds CEO comments, background)
By Norihiko Shirouzu and Joseph White
SHANGHAI, April 19 China's premium car market
will grow by half over the next decade, the chief executive of
high-end automaker Audi AG said on Wednesday, citing
growing personal wealth and the emergence of flourishing private
enterprises as key drivers.
Audi's CEO Rupert Stadler said the market would grow to
around three million cars per year in a decade's time, driven by
broader growth in the world's second-largest economy, rising
wealth and the "entrepreneurial development" of private firms.
"We will expect significant growth," he said at the Shanghai
auto show. "It doesn't matter if it comes in two years or three
years. But at least from a 10-year perspective we see growth."
Audi, the luxury division of Volkswagen AG, was
an early entrant to China and remains the best-selling premium
car brand in the market, although it is rapidly losing ground to
newer models from Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz.
Hubertus Troska, head of China operations for Mercedes-Benz,
said separately at the Shanghai show he expects China's premium
market will reach the 3 million mark within five years.
German brands currently account for about 70 percent of
luxury vehicle sales in China, but that share could decline as
more brands enter the luxury car and sport utility vehicle (SUV)
Audi said in January it would sell more electric cars in
China and deepen ties with local partner China FAW Group Corp
to counter rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Joseph White; Writing by
Adam Jourdan; Editing by Christopher Cushing)