SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- BMW AG's year-old factory in China sold 7,859 cars over the first nine months of 2004, putting the German firm on track to meet a scaled-down full-year sales target of 10,000.
BMW and joint venture partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd had sold a total of more than 10,000 cars from their plant in the northeastern industrial city of Shenyang, the company said on Friday.
BMW's made-in-China sedans began rolling off the assembly lines in October last year. Its joint venture with Brilliance, just a few hours' drive from the North Korean border, is designed for initial annual capacity of 30,000 3 and 5 series BMWs.
"Despite a slowdown in growth of the car market after May 2004, we managed to sustain stable growth through strong brand awareness," Franz Jung, the venture's senior vice president, said in a statement.
The partners are investing 450 million euros ($540 million) by 2005 to expand the factory's capacity.
Brilliance, China's top minibus maker, had expected to sell 18,000 BMWs this year. But it lowered the target in September by more than 40 percent to "more than" 10,000 amid an industry downturn triggered by Beijing's efforts to slow a racing economy.
China curbed lending to car buyers around the second quarter, sparking price cuts and inventory buildup, just as local and foreign car firms were investing billions of dollars to boost capacity there.
Car sales in the country climbed 7.4 percent in August from a year earlier, showing signs of life as buyers scared off by the credit clampdown trickled back into showrooms.
But that was well off the pace of last year and earlier in 2004, indicating persistent nervousness over Beijing's efforts to prevent a rash of new bad loans.
After China's car market nearly doubled last year to about two million units, growth this year is forecast to slow to roughly 15 percent.