BMW's sales were down in September as the company started to feel the effects of the global financial crisis and increased competition.

Speaking in Paris, chairman Norbert Reithofer would not rule out production cuts following news that last month's sales were down year on year. Sales in the first nine months were up overall but Reithofer did not provide precise data.

Sales to the end of September 2007 were 1.1m units.

BMW is the biggest selling German manufacturer in the US and has therefore been hardest hit by the financial crisis there. It sold 18,506 BMW and Mini brand cars there last month, down almost 26% on a year ago. For the first nine months US sales were down 4.8% to 236,327 units.

Reithofer said that car markets remain strained and does not expect recovery before the middle of next year, according to news agency dpa.

He added that BMW is sticking to its aim of growing sales year-on-year at the global level. Last year the group sold 1.5m cars and is targeting 1.8m by 2015.

BMW would adjust production if necessary, said Reithohefer. The automaker said earlier production may have to be cut after issuing a profit warning at the beginning of August. It said then that 40,000 cars originally destined for the US market would be redirected to other markets or simply not produced.

BMW has cut 8,100 jobs this year and become more flexible as a result, said Reithofer. Further production cuts would be possible using time banking or by reducing the number of contract workers, although this is not considered necessary right now.

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