from CNN Europe:
BMW to break more records
March 19, 2002 Posted: 9:44 AM EST
MUNICH, Germany - BMW, the German luxury carmaker, plans to break more records this year despite a decline in global car sales.
European car sales are expected to fall by 5 percent this year, according to industry analysts, and Germany and the United States have dipped into recession. But BMW said its customers have deep pockets and have not stopped buying.
"We are confident that we will be able to report improvements in sales volumes, revenue and earnings for the year 2002,'' said Helmut Panke, who becomes chief executive in May.
BMW expects vehicle sales to surpass 1 million in 2002, propelled by demand for its X5 sports utility and perennial market leader the 3-Series. Now, the carmaker plans to launch an assault on Ford's Focus and Volkswagen's Golf models, with its long-awaited 1-Series.
At the Geneva Motor Show it unveiled the CS1 concept car, which should hit the road in 2004. Priced at about $22,000, the midrange car will slot between the Mini and the money spinning 3-Series.
Earlier this month, BMW posted record 2001 pretax profits of 3.242 billion euros ($2.8 billion), up 59.5 percent on the year earlier, with sales totalling 38.5 billion euros.
But sales had been weak in the last quarter of 2001, while sales in Germany were flat. Chief Executive Joachim Milberg said the U.S. car market had proved better than expected so far this year.
"The American automobile market... is showing a much more robust development than many had assumed at the beginning of the year and is therefore not necessarily running parallel to the overall development of the economy,'' he said.
Sales of the new flag-ship 7-Series, which has been criticised for abandoning the firm's conservative styling, has proved to be better than many critics had anticipated, Milberg said.
"So far we have sold more Seven Series than we did of the former model in the same introductory period,'' he said.
BMW expects to sell 100,000 Minis
And sales of the Mini, the only brand it kept on from loss-making Rover, which it sold for a symbolic 10 pounds, are expected to reach 100,000 this year.
"The results of our business in the year 2001 clearly prove once again that our focus on the premium brand strategy is both viable and appropriate,'' said Milberg.
BMW's stock rose 1.5 percent to a new 52-week high of 46.66 euros in Frankfurt afternoon trading.