The German automaker experienced surprising growth last year as customer demand for luxury vehicles increased again in the US and China.
BMW enjoyed record sales last year as the world’s largest luxury carmaker said it expected the boom in upmarket motors to continue this year.
The German automotive group behind the Mini, BMW and Rolls-Royce marques said worldwide sales rose 14% to 1.67m vehicles in 2011, spurred by strong demand from China and a resurgent United States. The announcement came on the opening of the Detroit Motor Show, the industry’s gala event, and in the wake of confirmation that Rolls-Royce had posted the most successful 12-month sales period in its 107-year history.
Speaking in Detroit, BMW sales executive Ian Robertson said: “2011 was an excellent year for the BMW Group. We have clearly attained our sales target of more than 1.6m vehicles and our models continue to be in high demand right across the world.” Robertson added that BMW planned to remain the world’s largest premium carmaker in 2012, with the company expecting the global market for luxury vehicles to grow by more than 8% this year.
According to BMW’s results, Rolls-Royce was the strongest performer, with starting prices of between £200,000 and £300,000, as sales rose 30.5%. Sales of the Mini rose by 21.7%, followed by a 12.8% jump for the BMW series, which accounts for more than eight out of 10 cars sold by the company.
“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,” said Robertson, who added that growth would be driven by the launch of the new BMW 3 series next month.
One in three cars sold by BMW come from the 3 series family, with the new model at the vanguard of BMW’s battle with arch-rivals Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen-owned Audi.
Last week Bentley reported a 37% increase in sales, driven by demand from the same countries that have underpinned BMW’s numbers: China and the US. A sales boom in emerging markets, and the recovery of the US market, are helping offset a weak domestic market in the UK, where registrations fell 4.4% last year. Figures due out this month are expected to show that total car manufacturing in the UK – the manufacturing home of the likes of Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Mini and McLaren – rose by up to 6% last year.
Eight out of 10 cars made in the UK are sold abroad and the biggest market for British-made cars at Nissan, the country’s largest carmaker, is Russia – one of the world’s burgeoning markets.