BMW Cites Production as Offesetting Europe Market Decline

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, said its success amid Europe’s auto-market contraction shows the importance of setting up production and sales that can weather an economic crisis.

“Instead of making forecasts that don’t materialize after all, companies should create robust systems that get stronger, not weaker through chance, change and stress,” Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer said today in a speech at a conference hosted by Auto, Motor & Sport magazine in Stuttgart, Germany.

“I view our strategy as such a robust, anti-fragile system,” Reithofer said. “It led us through the time of economic crisis and laid the basis for our current success.”

Europe’s car market shrank for a fifth consecutive year in 2012. Munich-based BMW overtook Italian mass-market producer Fiat SpA to become the region’s sixth-largest carmaker with a sales decline that was less than the industrywide contraction. The German carmaker has a labor agreement at its domestic plants allowing it to react quickly to shifts in demand for vehicles.

BMW, which posted a second annual record in worldwide deliveries last year because of growth in the U.S. and China, widened its global luxury-auto sales lead over Audi AG in March as it won customers with new versions of the 3-Series sedan and X1 sport-utility vehicle. BMW also competes with the Mercedes-Benz brand of Stuttgart-based Daimler AG.

Reithofer also said German industry leaders need to overcome reservations about electric vehicles and take a more active role in preparing for eventual growth in demand for battery-powered and plug-in hybrid cars. Drivers in California or large Chinese cities such as Shanghai have a different view on mobility than customers in Germany, and manufacturers need to pursue a long-term, global strategy, he said.

BMW is bringing out its first electric vehicle, the i3 city car, later this year. The model will be followed by an electric sports car dubbed the i8.

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