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BMW drives into 2012 full of confidence

Last Updated: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 11:50

Frankfurt: BMW, the world's largest premium carmaker, brushed off gloom-and-doom scenarios for next year and forecast another strong year for sales underpinned by new models like its revamped 3 Series saloon that hits showrooms in February.

Thanks to a rapidly rising standard of living in China, BMW is racing from one record to the next by offering a growing pool of young, wealthy, status-oriented consumers the latest in sinewy sport coupes and flashy SUVs.

"In 2012, the BMW brand will have the youngest model range of all of our core competitors by far," Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer told reporters on Thursday evening at an event in Munich.

BMW has said it aims to post earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of between 8 percent and 10 percent of revenue at its core Automobiles division sustainably, starting next year.

Reithofer brushed off any idea of a possible collapse of the euro zone: "I don't even want to imagine that at all, and I don't believe it will happen."

The arrival of the 3 Series saloon on Feb. 11 is critical to the group's plans, since every third BMW bought belongs to the model family that will later include an estate, a full hybrid and eventually its performance M3.

Another key element is demand from the most populous country in the world, where twice as many consumers are planning to spend considerably more on their next car purchase than those in the United States or European Union, according to BMW.

"Currently about 13 percent of Europe's car owners drive a vehicle from the compact class, just like in China. But while half of those in Europe would buy another compact the next time around, not even 5 percent of Chinese car owners would," Reithofer said, adding three out of every four in China want to graduate to the next class.

BMW, which posted record November sales, aims to sell over 1.6 million vehicles this year and to achieve an EBIT margin exceeding 10 percent at its core Automobiles division.

In order to boost annual sales to more than 2 million vehicles by 2020, BMW is expanding capacity in its three plants in Russia, India and South Africa as well as creating an all new assembly plant in Brazil.

Reithofer affirmed his company's strategy of entering targeted partnerships in research & development, but he declined to comment on reports that it might team up with General Motors in the field of hydrogen fuel cells.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 11:50
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