BMW shifts thousands of cars to U.S. from battered Europe
A BMW 3-series travels along the production line at the company's assembly plant in Regensburg, Germany, in March.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- BMW AG has shifted "tens of thousands" of cars that were originally targeted for Europe to the United States and Asia this year as sales weaken in the crisis-hit region.
"Challenges in Europe are getting greater," Ian Robertson, sales chief for the world's largest luxury-car brand, told reporters Wednesday at a company event in Munich.
The region faces "a lot of bumps on the road" before it stabilizes and an auto-market recovery could take years, he said.
Europe's car industry is poised to suffer its biggest annual sales drop in 19 years in 2012.
BMW has avoided the brunt of the European sovereign-debt crisis thanks to demand in the United States and China for models like the new 3-Series sedan.
The brand sold 14 percent more cars and SUVs in September globally, helping boost nine-month deliveries up 8.6 percent to 1.11 million vehicles.
Robertson said he expects "good" growth in the United States in October and November, and China is still attractive, even if growth has slowed since the beginning of the year.
"The slowdown in China is part of what's happening in Europe," as the effects of the debt crisis ripple beyond the continent, he said.
The growth elsewhere doesn't help BMW's partners in Europe, and the company may need to help dealers through the crisis, especially in Spain where it faces "some very difficult decisions" on restructuring the dealership network, Robertson said.