BMW eyes 2012 growth after record 2011 sales
BMW AG said its new 3 series should spur growth in the second half of 2012 after the group posted record sales of 1.67 million vehicles in 2011.
The world's largest premium carmaker said global sales of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars rose 14.2 percent last year. By comparison, rival Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach brands finished 2011 with combined sales of 1.36 million vehicles, an increase of 8 percent over 2010.
"Looking ahead, we want to continue to grow, with balanced sales growth across all continents, and we plan to remain the world's top-selling premium automaker in 2012," BMW head of sales Ian Robertson said in a statement.
He added the company would see "momentum increase in the second half of the year" due to the new BMW 3 series, which will be launched worldwide next month.
Separately, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said he expects the carmaker to grow faster than the overall market in 2012, after entering the year with strong orders.
"We're starting 2012 with a very good order book and very young model range ... this should provide some momentum," Reithofer told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday.
Reithofer said he is "very optimistic about the U.S. market's growth prospects" and that he expected it to return to pre-crisis levels in the future.
BMW brand's sales rose 12.8 percent to a record 1.38 million vehicles, topping Mercedes brand, which finished 2011 with 1.26 million sales. In December, a total of 128,182 BMW vehicles were delivered, an increase of 10.9 percent over December 2010, with the new BMW X3 SUV leading the way in terms of growth.
BMW Group's previous record for its three brands was 1,500,678 sales, which was set in 2007. Daimler's trio of brands also set a sales record in 2011, topping the previous all-time high of 1,285,900 units set in 2007.
Source: Reuters with contributions from Douglas A. Bolduc