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BMW expects growth above market average

Munich. BMW AG expects sales in Germany to stay ahead of general market growth, but the company will not be drawn on numbers.

Sales chief Ludwig Willisch said that in March BMW and Mini sold 25,498 units, a sales increase of 8 percent in comparison to the same period last year.

It looks as if the second quarter, during which the new 5-series Touring will be launched, will continue a similar pattern.

"It's going really well now. We are expecting growth figures that lie above the general market growth," said Willisch.

BMW, he said, is still very happy with the 3 series, despite the car reaching the end of its life cycle and he is also optimistic about the Mini brand, despite a sales drop of 13.8 percent in the first quarter.

Orders are "more than satisfying", he said, adding that customers just needed more time to make up their minds.

Willisch also plans to increase sales in economically weaker regions of Germany such as the new east German states.

"We believe that that the 1-series is an attractive model for those regions. BMW is creating a few thousand new jobs in Leipzig that will make the area more prosperous -- and therefore people will be more prepared to make purchases."

Willisch was unconcerned by complaints from BMW's German dealer association over a new margin system. He said the new system was not a concern for more than 100 dealers that are currently applying for a BMW franchise.

In the long-term the BMW Group puts its hope in successful medium-sized dealers.

BMW dealer association spokesman Peter Enders said dealers face a critical situation.

He said dealers' return on investment is now lower than in 2002 and instead of increasing dealers margins to the 3 percent demanded by dealers, BMW reduced them to 1 percent.

Enders also said a new price system that regulates dealers' bonuses is a "catastrophe" due to the administration involved.

Tags: Automakers BMW

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