BMW sees room for more growth in China's luxury car market

BEIJING Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:02am EST

BEIJING Nov 23 (Reuters) - German carmaker BMW sees continued double-digit sales gains in China next year as the luxury car market there, at 9-10 percent of overall sales, still lags the developed world, where the luxury segment accounts for 15 percent of the total.

The German firm, which is building a second plant in northeast China to initially double its capacity to 200,000 vehicles, later rising to 300,000, expects to sell 1 million cars in China over the next three years, Duan Jianjun, deputy sales chief at BMW's venture with the state-owned parent of Hong Kong-listed Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, told Internet portal Sohu.com at the Guangzhou auto show.

China's luxury car market has lost some of its steam after years of break-neck growth, though demand for high-end cars remains robust as personal wealth grows.

"We have sold 1 million cars in China so far. We will strive to sell another million in the next three years," Duan said.

BMW's China car sales grew 35 percent in January-October from a year earlier, five times the growth rate of the overall market, and topping Audi's 31.2 percent and Mercedes-Benz's 8 percent growth.

Daniel Kirchert, senior vice president at BMW's China venture, told Sohu.com separately that the venture was preparing to launch a China-only car. He did not elaborate. BMW and Brilliance plan to produce 200,000 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engines a year at an engine plant in Shenyang. (Reporting by Fang Yan in BEIJING and Kazunori Takada in SHANGHAI; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)