BMW Says H1 Chinese Sales Surge Nearly 60%
German luxury carmaker BMW increased sales in mainland China nearly 60 percent in the first half and is considering expanding the production capacity of its joint venture in the country to meet demand.
"Japan is still the biggest market in Asia for BMW, but China is rapidly catching up," BMW Chairman Helmut Panke said at a business luncheon on Friday.
The world's largest premium carmaker teamed up with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. to produce BMW 3 Series and 5 Series in a venture with an annual capacity of 30,000 units in China's northern city of Shenyang.
Panke said BMW's sales in mainland China would have grown by almost 60 percent in the first half of 2006, although he did not give a sales figure.
Including Chinese markets outside the mainland, sales of BMW grew by more than 37 percent last year. "This year we are continuing at about same growth rate, 36 percent," Panke said.
Munich-based BMW, which overtook German rival DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz last year, is mulling an expansion of production capacity at the joint venture.
"The market is developing positively for us, and one has to basically be prepared so one doesn't get slowed down," Panke told reporters.
"We probably will reach the 30,000 (units) of local production in the course of, if not this year, then next year," he said. But Panke also said the company had not started talks with its Chinese partner and that no date or other specific details were in discussion.
Total sales of BMW brand cars in mainland China last year, including imports, hit 23,595. Brilliance said earlier this year that the joint venture sold 17,500 BMWs last year.
Shares in Brilliance rose 4 percent in Hong Kong to close at HK$1.31 on Friday. They have risen 6 percent in the past month, outperforming a 2.6 percent gain on the benchmark Hang Seng Index <.HSI> during the same period.