BMW targets 2 million car sales this year on China, U.S. gains

BMW's 2-series Active Tourer van is one of several new models the automaker is showing in Geneva.
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GENEVA (Bloomberg) -- BMW Group plans to sell more than 2 million cars and SUVs this year as demand grows in China and the United States.

Two-month group deliveries, including the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, rose about 7 percent, propelled by a 9 percent jump at the BMW nameplate, CEO Norbert Reithofer said on Tuesday at a Geneva auto show press briefing.

BMW is presenting a new compact van dubbed the 2-series Active Tourer in Geneva, as well as the 4-series coupe, a model based on its best-selling 3-series sedan. It is also showing the latest versions of its M3 and M4 high-performance models.

To meet future demand, BMW will need an additional plant in North America and plans to expand its two Chinese factories, Reithofer said.

BMW, along with rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz, are all targeting at least a fourth consecutive year of record deliveries in 2014 and are adding manufacturing capacity outside Europe as sales growth abroad makes up for a stagnant market in their home region.

Group sales from BMW rose 6 percent in 2013 to 1.96 million cars and SUVs, with the namesake brand posting 1.66 million deliveries, an 8 percent gain. Audi, which ranks second in premium sales worldwide after BMW, increased deliveries 8 percent last year to 1.58 million. Growth at the Mercedes brand outpaced demand gains at the two larger competitors, with sales jumping 11 percent to 1.46 million vehicles.

China expansion

BMW plans to add capacity at its plants in Tiexi and Dadong in China, Reithofer said. The carmaker also builds SUVs at a factory it set up 20 years ago in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Chinese and U.S. customers are expected to sustain demand gains this year, Reithofer said. Those markets dominated auto-industry sales growth in 2013, while demand in European fell a sixth consecutive year to a two-decade low amid a sovereign-debt crisis.

Mercedes' chief Dieter Zetsche predicted on Tuesday that "there will not be a fast recovery in Europe, but a longer-term development,'' adding that ''there are positive signals even from southern Europe.''

Mercedes may decide in 12 months on adding a North American plant, Zetsche said at a separate briefing in Geneva.

S-class coupe

Daimler is displaying a coupe variant of the top-of-the-line Mercedes S-class car range, introducing the V-class van and putting a new version of its mid-sized C-class sedan on show in Europe for the first time in Geneva.

Audi is introducing a remake of its iconic TT coupe at the Geneva event.

Sales of BMW's new i3 electric city car may outstrip production capacity, Reithofer said on Tuesday, adding that U.S. dealers at a recent meeting were also upbeat about the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car that will begin sales later this year, telling the manufacturer they could sell every one of the model produced.

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