BMW will achieve its 2005 target for holding pretax profit roughly steady, chief executive Helmut Panke reportedly told WirtschaftsWoche magazine.

"I can reveal this much about earnings: We will look a lot better than most of our rivals and will achieve the targets we have communicated," he was quoted on Wednesday as saying, according to Reuters.

But the news agency noted that BMW has given itself some "wiggle room" by adopting a rather loose formulation for what it means by roughly flat earnings.

"Since spring we have been asked about this analyst range of plus/minus 10% and have said we are coming at this from below," Panke told Reuters in November. "This is something that I can confirm with exactly the same wording."

BMW reported a sharper-than-expected drop in third-quarter pretax profit as the strong euro, high raw material prices and pricing pressure dogged it, the news agency added.

According to Reuters, Panke also told the magazine BMW was confident it could sell more than 200,000 Minis this year, which would be a gain of over 8.5%.

Sales of BMW brand cars had risen 10.4% to the end of November and sales of luxury Rolls-Royces were also doing well, he said, adding: "We may well surpass slightly unit sales (of Rolls-Royce) from last year."

Panke reportedly expressed confidence that the premium car segment would continue to expand, making top brands ever more important and turning up the pressure on mass-volume carmakers.

He also criticised the German government's plan to raise taxes on company cars driven by entrepreneurs, Reuters said.

"In the premium segment - not just with us - the share of cars used for company business is over 50%. If the rules are changed there, that would of course have an impact on unit sales and thus on the economy in Germany," he said, according to the report.

He said BMW expected politicians to treat the matter cautiously so as not to endanger an upswing.

"In any event we have to avoid a long debate over this subject because this would only make customers uncertain," he said, according to Reuters.