FRANKFURT -- BMW's global vehicle sales rose 6.6 percent in October to 108,628 units, helped by continued strong demand for sporty cars such as its revamped 3-series model, the company said on Tuesday.
Deliveries of its core BMW brand rose 6.9 percent to 92,748 vehicles last month, while sales of its Mini subcompact advanced 5.0 percent to 15,809 cars.
For the first 10 months, group sales at the world's largest premium carmaker rose 10.9 percent to 1,097,103 units, including 535 Rolls-Royce Phantom limousines.
That slipped a bit from the 11.4 percent growth it generated in the first three quarters as comparisons grew tougher. October 2004 was the first full month of availability for the BMW 1-series compact and 2.0-liter diesel version of the X3 SUV.
The Munich-based carmaker was able to extend its lead in vehicle sales over archrival Mercedes Car Group. Unit sales at the Mercedes premium division rose 1.3 percent in October to 106,500 vehicles as stronger demand for its core Mercedes-Benz brand offset weaker sales of Smart small cars, the company had said on Monday.
In the first 10 months, the division that includes the Mercedes, Smart and Maybach brands reported a 0.8 percent gain in deliveries to 985,100 units as more Mercedes M-class SUVs and A-class compacts left dealers' lots.
TURNING SALES INTO PROFITS
BMW has booked impressive gains in vehicle sales despite weak car markets and is well on track to rack up another year of record deliveries as the group's biggest model offensive continued with this March's relaunch of the 3 series sedan, which has already sold more than 175,000 cars.
The 3-series wagon went on sale in mid-September and more than 11,000 have been sold so far.
BMW has forecast sales volume will rise at a high-single-digit percentage rate in 2005.
Sales and marketing chief Michael Ganal said the 3-series sedan and wagon versions were driving sales growth, as were vehicles that had opened new market segments.
"In the first 10 months of 2005 these models in particular -- the BMW X3, the BMW 6 series and the BMW 1 series -- are well above the levels of the previous year," he said.
Ten-month unit sales rose 29.4 percent in Chinese markets to 26,595 units; by 29.1 percent in Spain to 46,565 vehicles; and by 34.1 percent in South Africa to 23,393 cars.
Despite the solid volume growth, investors have found precious little consolation since BMW has been unable to translate this success into higher earnings.
The strong euro, high raw material prices, fierce pricing competition and a fair-value loss on an exchangeable bond option combined to push pretax profit down 12.5 percent to 2.38 billion euros ($2.81 billion) in the first nine months.