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Skoda to expand auto production in China to three models

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SHANGHAI (AP) _ Czech automaker Skoda said Wednesday it plans to expand production in China to three model ranges from the currently planned one, in a bid to build market share in the fast-growing Chinese market.

The company, a unit of Germany's Volkswagen AG, said in a release that production of the Octavia will begin next year, with the Favia and Superb model ranges to follow.

The broadened product line will ``reinforce the expansion of the brand Skoda to the Chinese market,'' the company said.

All three models will be made at Volkswagen's sprawling Shanghai joint-venture plant, where a team from Skoda is already on site readying for production, Skoda said. All vehicles made there are intended for the Chinese domestic market, it said.

The move ``shows we see China as one of the strategic markets for the brand's future growth,'' Skoda Auto AS chairman Detlef Wittig was quoted as saying.

Skoda's growth strategy also includes assembly and other manufacturing projects in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Bosnia, and India.

In China, the company is entering a fast-growing but increasingly competitive auto market which is about to pass Japan as the world's second-largest.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM), was the top foreign automaker in China last year, with 11 per cent of the market and 665,390 units sold, followed by Volkswagen.

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Skoda to expand auto production in China to three models
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