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BMW Sees Third Consecutive Sales Record on New 4-Series

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the biggest maker of luxury cars, said sales will probably reach a third consecutive annual record next year, when the manufacturer will introduce the 4-Series coupe.

The U.S. car market is “continuing to be in good shape,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, said at a presentation of the new model in Munich late yesterday. The U.S. will be the biggest market for the car, which replaces the coupe version of the 3-Series next year, followed by Germany and the U.K., he said.

Growth in demand in China and the U.S. has largely shielded Munich-based BMW from the effects of the sovereign-debt crisis in Europe, where the car market may shrink by the most in almost two decades this year. Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, the world’s third-biggest luxury-car manufacturer, has abandoned profit targets and initiated a cost-cutting plan because of the slowdown and an aging model line-up.

BMW has responded to the European market contraction by shifting “tens of thousands” of cars originally bound for the region to Asia and the U.S., Robertson said. A “tough European market” is expected in 2013 and probably also 2014, while demand in China will continue to expand next year, he said.

U.S. sales of the BMW brand increased 45 percent in November to 31,213 cars and sport-utility vehicles, narrowing the gap with Mercedes-Benz in that market this year. The Stuttgart, Germany-based competitor’s U.S. sales rose 13 percent in November to 30,315 deliveries.

The 4-Series coupe will share underpinnings with the sedan version of the 3-Series while having a broader, lower and longer design to add sportiness. Sales of the model are expected to remain at a low level in the first year of introduction, eventually picking up to surpass the previous generation’s figures, Robertson said.

The three-door coupe version accounted for about 10 percent of total 3-Series sales last year. The 4-Series will have “competitive” pricing in its segment, Robertson said.

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