German car makers race to new records in March | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 11.04.2012
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German car makers race to new records in March

Driven by a seemingly insatiable global demand for German cars, luxury auto maker BMW has seen the best quarter in company history, while its mainstream rival VW has sold more cars than ever in a single month.

Germany's top-of-the-range auto maker BMW sold 425,528 cars worldwide in the first quarter of 2012 – a rise of 11.2 percent compared with a year earlier, the company said Wednesday.

Powered by growth in key markets Germany, the United States and China, the period marked the best quarter in the company's history.

Sales of 185,728 vehicles in March had also been the highest ever recorded for a single month, the Munich-based firm said, breaking the previous sales record of 165.855 cars set in June 2011.

Sales in China surged 36.8 percent compared with the first quarter of 2011, in addition to a rise of 16.6 percent in the United States and 2.0 percent for Germany.

The company said it hoped to grow stronger than the overall market in 2012, targeting more record sales of its BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brand cars.

VW industry's earner

Similarly impressive sales figures were also reported by carmaker Volkswagen (VW).

The company, based in Wolfsburg, announced it had surpassed previous monthly and quarterly sales records by selling 536,600 vehicles in March and 1.36 million in the first quarter this year.

"While European markets have remained difficult, we were able to boost sales in North America and Asia," VW's marketing manager Christian Klingler told Reuters news agency.

In China, which according to VW has come to be the firm's "most important market," sales grew 12.5 percent to 483,000 vehicles in the first quarter.

Growth was also "exceptional" in the US - up 40.8 percent - and Russia, where twice as many cars had been sold than in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, business consultancy firm Ernst & Young said Wednesday that VW 2011 earnings were the highest of all car manufacturers in the world.

VW earnings to the tune of 159.3 billion euros ($209 billion) last year meant that the German firm had replaced Japanese auto maker Toyota as the world's top earner in terms of revenue.

Regarding 2011 sales numbers, Ernst & Young said that VW came in second to US auto maker General Motors which sold 9 million vehicles compared with VW's 8.3 million.

uhe/gb (Reuters, dpa, AFP)