BMW, the world's biggest luxury carmaker, has enjoyed record sales in the first three months of 2012 thanks largely to strong demand for its UK-manufactured Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.
The company — which makes the official cars for London’s 2012 Olympics — said it now plans to grow sales faster than its rivals for the rest of 2012, setting new records for its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.
As reported in the London Evening Standard, BMW says sales in China have overtaken those in the US for the first time in its history.
The good news comes at time when the UK car manufacturing industry is on course for potentially its best-ever year. Already this week Nissan has announced that its new hatchback will be built in Sunderland following on from news that its new Innovation model will also be built in this country. Those two models are expected to create up to 3000 jobs over the next three years.
BMW sold 426,000 cars between January and March which was 11.2% more than in the same period of 2011. March sales rose by 12% to 186,000.
Ian Robertson, board member for sales and marketing, said: “BMW achieved an all-time high in sales last month and the best first quarter in
its history. These outstanding results are due to our attractive, young model range and our strategy of healthy, balanced growth across the globe.
“We aim to continue the momentum with additional new models this year, such as the luxurious BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and a model revision of the flagship BMW 7 Series.” Mini sales rose 12.1% in the three months to 68,000 with particularly strong demand for the Mini Countryman where sales have grown 37% to 22,000.
At Rolls-Royce, first-quarter sales grew from 723 cars to 770.
In the BMW range, the 6 Series saw sales increase sixfold during March, reflecting the release of the coupe version, while Series 7 sales rose by 14.5% in the same month. China overtook the US as BMW’s biggest market for the first time in the quarter, reinforcing the country’s status as the biggest buyer of luxury vehicles.
Sales in China rose by 37% in the quarter to 80,000 as against the US where sales were 17% up on the previous year at 76,000.
BMW’s third largest market, Germany, saw a mere 2% rise in sales to 66,000 in the quarter, although there was a strong rise in demand in March when sales increased by 11%.
The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that BMW model sales were flat in the UK during the first quarter at 30,000, while Mini sales fell by 6% to 11,581.