Rolls-Royce CEO predicts 5th year of record sales

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BEIJING (Bloomberg) -- Rolls-Royce will probably post a fifth consecutive year of record sales, helped by demand in China and Japan, CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said.

The chief executive predicts sales in China will rise to a new all-time high, while he said deliveries in Japan have surged under the economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration.

Sales may rise in Russia this year as buyers look for investment vehicles to hold their value amid a slumping ruble, he added.

"The world economy is much stronger than it had been before," Mueller-Oetvoes said Friday in an interview before the Beijing auto show, which opens to the public next week. "You always see certain countries which are puzzling but Europe is coming back now, United States is very strong back. I think China is still a very sustainable economy over the next years to come."

His comments underline how demand for the BMW Group subsidiary's vehicles has remained resilient in China, the world's largest auto market, despite a crackdown on corruption and campaign against official extravagance that's chilled luxury spending from fine dining to Swiss watches.

The UK-based manufacturer delivered 3,630 cars globally last year for a fourth consecutive annual sales record, buoyed by a rise in Middle Eastern deliveries and gains in China.

Foreign auto brands in Japan, which last year saw its steepest stock-market rally in four decades, have seen their share of the market there climb to a record.

"They are very much bouncing back, thanks to Abe and his economics," Mueller-Oetvoes said, in reference to the Japanese prime minister. "This also shows you that Rolls-Royce in a certain way is linked to what happens in the economy in a broader sense because it's all about feel-good factors, how do you feel, it's consumer sentiments, and if the economy is good our business is picking up."

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