SINGAPORE: Germany’s BMW, the world’s largest maker of luxury cars, will start assembling its vehicles in its Chennai factory next month and expects to produce 1,000 units in the plant’s first year of operation.
The Munich-based company also said it would stick to its goal of selling 150,000 cars in Asia by next year, after sales in the region climbed 13.8% last year to a record 126,949 vehicles.
BMW’s plant in Chennai is the group’s fifth in Asia and will make 3-series and 5-series BMWs exclusively for the domestic market.
“It will be around a thousand units this year and we’ll bring it up to the plant’s capacity of 1,700 next year,” said BMW management board member Michael Ganal.
BMW, the world’s biggest premium carmaker ahead of DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes-Benz sold 257 cars in all of India during 2006. Ganal said India was a difficult market but added that the firm expects to profit from rising demand for its luxury cars as a result of rising wealth.
Sales of premium cars, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi, in India reached 5,400 last year and Ganal expects that figure to rise to around 10,000 by 2012.
The company also said sales of BMW brand cars in Asia rose 15.5% in 2006 from the previous year to 109,848 units.
Sales of its popular, iconic small car Mini in Asia rose 3.7% to 16,959 vehicles, while its ultra-luxury Rolls-Royce Phantoms sold 142 times—40 more than in 2005. Sales of BMW motorbikes were almost unchanged at 3,620.
Japan, which accounts for the lion’s share of sales in the region, recorded a 5.6% rise to 62,068 units.
China showed the strongest growth rate in Asia in the last year, up 35 % to around 44,700 vehicles.