BMW Group sales rose 4.2% year on year in February. A total of 77,790 cars were delivered to customers (2003: 74,660) but sales for the first two months of 2004, 152,155 units, were slightly below last year (154,620/-1.6%).

BMW said this was largely because production at the Munich plant was interrupted for refurbishment and modernisation from Christmas 2003 to the end of January 2004, affecting sales in January.

BMW chairman Helmut Panke said last week at the Geneva motor show that the company is assuming that all brands will be setting new records for the year as a whole.

In February, 64,910 BMW cars were delivered, an increase of 3.9% (2003: 62,470). For the period up to the end of February, sales reached 124,040 units, which was slightly below last year's level (127,320/ -2.6%).

5,400 of the new Magna Steyr-built X3 SUVs have already been delivered to customers since launch on 10 January while 6 series luxury coupé sales total 1,330 units so far. More new BMW models planned for 2004 include the 5 series Touring (wagon), the 6 series convertible and the eagerly awaited, VW Golf-bashing, 1 series entry-level models, BMW's first foray into this hard-fought segment.

February sales of the Mini again outstripped the high levels of last year by 5.4% with 12,840 units delivered (2003: 12,180). In the first two months of the year, 28,025 were delivered (2003: 27,290/ +2.7%); not bad considering this is now the fourth year since Mini sales started (in the UK in mid-2001). Demand for other retro models such as the Volkswagen New Beetle and Chrysler PT Cruiser was never that well sustained three years after launch.

BMW will sell the new Mini convertible from July and expects the new derivative to account for around 20% of orders.

40 Rolls-Royce cars were delivered in February, taking the total for the year to 90.

A market environment that continues to be difficult and a model changeover for the highest selling model - from R1150 GS to R1200 GS - affected motorcycle sales in the first two months as expected, BMW said.

February deliveries of 4,125 units were still 34.1% lower than last year's level (6,260) and year-to-date sales of 7,220 units were 30.2% down (2003: 10.340/-30.2%).

The company hopes the launch of the R1200 GS later this month will reverse the trend.