Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it hopes to boost its global sales in 2004 to a record 3.2 million vehicles, up 10 percent from the forecast for this year.

The sales target is rather optimistic as demand for cars in the world's major automotive markets is expected to remain flat.

But Honda President Takeo Fukui said the firm will boost its worldwide sales by reinforcing businesses in Japan, the United States and China.

To promote sales in China, Honda will set up Honda Motor (China) Investment Co. in Beijing in January, spending about 3.3 billion yen.

"The new investment firm will be wholly owned by Honda and will design our overall business strategy in China," Fukui said. "We hope this will help us better respond to customer needs in the rapidly growing market."

Honda hopes to increase sales in China from 122,000 cars in 2003 to roughly 220,000 in 2004, when the firm will double production capacity at its Guangzhou plant to 240,000 units and roll out 30,000 CR-V sport utility vehicles in China through a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp.

China's car market currently accounts for 2 million units and is forecast to expand to 7 million by 2010, according to Honda.

In Japan, Honda hopes to sell 800,000 vehicles in 2004, compared with 740,000 in 2003, which was down 18 percent from 2002.

Fukui said the company will achieve the domestic goal by introducing a large minivan next spring and a completely new model in summer, and by upgrading salespeople's skills. Honda hopes to sell 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2004, up 3.7 percent from 2003.