Dongfeng Motor Group has managed to maintain steady sales growth despite pessimism among institutional investors about the profits of the mainland vehicle industry, according to analysts. The group sold 594,000 units last year. No comparison figures for the previous year were given. Company spokesman Hu Xingdong said the group expected its joint venture with Japan's Honda Motor could reach 70,000 to 80,000 units next year. Analysts believed new models and improved margins would be the group's profit growth drivers. In a report, Morgan Stanley wrote that Dongfeng Honda would have more earnings upside this year while Dongfeng Peugeot was rapidly turning around and should be able to book a bigger profit. Standard & Poor's director of equity research services Christopher Lee said while the price war in the past two years had taken a toll on the mainland car industry, there could be a pick-up in sales and profits this year, which would benefit Dongfeng. After shelving its plan to list in Hong Kong at the end of 2004, the mainland's third-largest carmaker eventually came to the market in the fourth quarter of last year by halving the size of its original offer.