HONG KONG -- China's biggest minibus maker, Brilliance China Automative Holdings Ltd., said on Wednesday that it sold 104,218 vehicles in 2003, including 4,000 cars made by its joint venture with BMW AG.
The joint venture only started manufacturing mid-sized 5 Series BMWs in China at the end of October, the company said in an e-mail to Reuters.
The sales figure also included 25,600 Zhonghua sedans, a home-grown model launched in 2002, and 74,618 Jinbei minibuses, said the company, which is based in China's northeastern city of Shenyang.
Its minibus sales rose 14.55 percent from 65,138 units in 2002 while Zhonghua sedan sales almost tripled the 8,816 units it recorded in the five months from the launch of the model in August 2002, the company said.
China produced a record 2.07 million sedans in 2003, up 80.7 percent on the year, and car production is expected to rise by more than 40 percent to 2.8 million units this year, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said in its Web site.
Brilliance China said last year that the BMW joint venture's output should grow to 15,000-17,000 in 2004 and reach design capacity of 30,000 units in 2005.
Analysts have said that the BMW tie-up could help the firm to weather fierce competition in the mainland market, where well-established foreign automakers including Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. had stepped up investments to lift production in their mainland joint ventures.