FRANKFURT -- BMW Group has appointed veteran executive Karsten Engel to lead sales in China, the company's single biggest market. He will succeed Christoph Stark, 58, who will retire as China head in February after overseeing BMW sales jump about 15-fold over eight years in the country.
Engel, 54, will take over the China business starting March 1, BMW said in a statement. Engel will be based in Beijing and will also oversee the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in China.
Engel will face the challenge of building on Stark's progress in helping BMW close in on the lead held by Audi in the world's biggest car market. BMW is on pace to sell more than 300,000 vehicles in China this year. By comparison, Audi's sales topped 332,000 vehicles after 10 months. When Stark took over in 2004, BMW sold 16,000 vehicles a year in China.
"The prospects for the premium segment in China still look promising, although growth is expected to be a little slower," Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW's board of management, said in a separate statement. "Our commitment to China remains strong and is assured."