BMW AG expects significant sales increases in the first half of this year because of demand for new models, CFO Friedrich Eichiner said.
We see definite growth in emerging markets, Eichiner told reporters Thursday in Cape Town, South Africa. Double-digit growth in China is expected, but also in countries like Brazil, Korea and in Russia there should be significant growth. We see the U.S. market coming back.
BMW, which also makes Mini and Rolls-Royce models, sold about 1.46 million vehicles last year and is targeting sales of more than 1.5 million units this year. Booming demand from China is likely to offset slowing gains in Europe, where several countries have been beset by debt crises, he said.
Growth in Germany will be about 5 percent to 6 percent, Eichiner said.
Europe in total will be flat because there are still many problems in Europe in countries like Spain," he said. "What we are intending is not to be heavily dependent on one market.
BMW will spend 400 million euros ($545 million) at a plant in Leipzig, Germany, to add production of an electric city car by 2013. The automaker late last year completed a $750 million expansion of its U.S. factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to make room for the revamped X3 SUV.
We have the principle that the production should follow the market, Eichiner said. As we see significant growth in markets like China, it's clear that the capacity in China will be increased. We have already taken the decision for a new plant in China that will start in 2011.
BMW has invested about 500 million euros in the Chinese plant, which will initially be able to produce 75,000 vehicles a year. The plant's capacity is likely to be doubled to 150,000 units at a cost of an additional 500 million euros, and then doubled again to 300,000 -- which should occur within five years, Eichiner said.
BMW also plans to increase U.S. capacity. While production is likely to be increased at its German plants, the company is unlikely to open a fifth factory there, Eichiner said.