Singapore markets open in 4 hours 25 minutes

China set to replace U.S. as Volvo's biggest market this year

Chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Li Shufu poses for a photo at an assembly line of the new Volvo automobile manufacturing plant in Chengdu, Sichuan province, June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is set to surpass the United States to become Volvo Car Group's biggest market in 2014 with sales of at least 80,000 cars in the world's largest auto market.

Its car sales target for 2014 is around a third higher than the 61,146 cars sold in 2013, while sales in the United States in 2014 are expected to increase only in line with the broader market, it said in a statement on Sunday.

In the first quarter of this year, it sold 17,286 cars in China, up 25.4 percent from a year earlier.

Volvo, whose XC60 SUV is its best-selling model in China, expects the Chinese market to help boost its global sales in coming years, though it faces competition from foreign firms, such as General Motors Co (GM.N), and domestic players such as SAIC Motor Corp <600104.SS>.

Volvo, which was acquired by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (GEELY.UL) from Ford Motor Co (NYS:F) in 2010, aims for annual sales of 800,000 cars by 2020, almost double the level last year.

(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Writing by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Nick Macfie)