Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury autos, plans to sell more than 2 million cars and sport-utility vehicles this year as demand grows in China and the U.S.
Two-month group deliveries, including the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, rose about 6.5 percent, propelled by a 9 percent jump at the BMW nameplate, Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer said today at a Geneva International Motor Show press briefing. The company will need an additional plant in North America to meet demand, and plans to expand its two Chinese factories, he said.
BMW, Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand, all targeting at least a fourth consecutive year of record deliveries in 2014, are adding manufacturing capacity outside Europe as sales growth abroad makes up for a stagnant market in their home region. Mercedes may decide in 12 months on adding a North American plant, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said at a separate briefing in Geneva.
Group sales by Munich-based BMW rose 6.4 percent in 2013 to 1.96 million cars and SUVs, with the namesake brand posting 1.66 million deliveries, a 7.5 percent gain. Audi, which ranks second in premium-model sales worldwide, increased deliveries 8.3 percent last year to 1.58 million. Growth at Mercedes outpaced demand gains at the two larger competitors, with sales jumping 11 percent to 1.46 million vehicles.
BMW plans to add capacity at its plants in Tiexi and Dadong in China, Reithofer said. The carmaker also builds SUVs at a factory it set up 20 years ago in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Chinese and U.S. customers will sustain demand gains this year, Reithofer said.
Those markets dominated auto-industry sales growth in 2013, while demand in European fell a sixth consecutive year to a two-decade low amid a sovereign-debt crisis. Daimler’s Zetsche predicted today that “there will not be a fast recovery in Europe, but a longer-term development, while ‘‘there are positive signals even from southern Europe.’’
BMW is presenting a new compact van dubbed 2-Series Active Tourer in Geneva, as well as the 4-Series coupe, a model based on its best-selling 3-Series sedan, and the M3 and M4 high-performance sports cars.
Daimler, which is based in Stuttgart, is displaying a coupe variant of the top-of-the-line Mercedes S-Class car range, introducing the V-Class van and putting a new version of its mid-sized C-Class sedan on show in Europe for the first time. Ingolstadt-based Audi is introducing a remake of its iconic TT coupe at the Geneva event.
Sales of BMW’s new i3 electric city car may outstrip production capacity, Reithofer said. U.S. dealers at a recent meeting were also upbeat about the hybrid i8 sports car, telling the manufacturer they could sell every one of the model produced, he said.