FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- BMW on Friday blamed modernization work at one of its main plants for a 7.1 percent fall in global car sales in January and repeated it expects higher sales for all its brands this year.
The luxury automaker said it sold 74,300 vehicles worldwide last month, a 7.1 percent fall from a year earlier and that sales of its BMW brand cars slipped 8.9 percent to 59,080.
BMW said refurbishment and modernization work at its Munich plant led to a production shortfall in its 3-Series, which hit January sales overall. But it said it expected to top the previous year's sales figures again in the next few months.
"The company is also assuming that it will be reaching new sales levels for all brands for the year as a whole," it added.
Sales of its small Mini hatchback rose 0.4 percent and BMW delivered 50 of its super-luxury Rolls-Royce Phantom limousines in January. It aims to sell 1,000 Rolls-Royces this year.
BMW's North American sales fell 19 percent in January to 16,135 vehicles from a year ago. It cited unfavorable weather and low inventories after a strong end to 2003.
Local rival DaimlerChrysler said on Thursday global sales of its Mercedes and small Smart cars fell eight percent year-on-year in January.
Mercedes-Benz expects flat sales this year before it benefits in 2005 from new ranges of its A-Class hatchback and M-Class off-roader.
But BMW is reaping the rewards of heavy investment in its biggest ever model offensive and aims to sell a record number of cars in 2004 after launching a new generation of 5-series saloons and an all-new X3 sports utility vehicle.
BMW Chief Executive Helmut Panke told Reuters in Singapore on Friday he was sticking to his 2004 sales goal and repeated that 2003 profits -- due for release on March 11 -- should match the previous year's level despite the weakness of the dollar.