Perhaps as a sign of the current global new car slowdown, the number of BMW brand cars sold worldwide in June 2002 climbed just 1.1% from 81,322 units to 82,186 units.

Putting a brave face on it, BMW said in a statement that this “should be seen against the high volumes achieved in the previous year”.

Global market share in major sales regions inched up just 0.1% to 2.1% year on year.

Toss the new Mini into the mix, of course, and the numbers crunch much better. The new baby, launched in the UK in July 2001 and rolled out to huge acclaim in the US last March, achieved 62,412 sales in the first six months of 2002.

That bumped group sales for the first half up by 18.2% to 543,742 compared with 459,835 cars in H1, 2001. June vehicle sales rose 16.1% to 94,420 units (previous year: 81,337 units).

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BMW brand cars sold 481,330 in H1, 2002, up 4.7% over the previous year’s 459,835.

Motorcycle sales increased 4.5 % in the first half of 2002 to 58,432 units up from 55,937.

BMW board chairman Helmut Panke said: “We anticipate that we will achieve a sales volume increase for the full year in all of our major markets. For the first time, we will manufacture and sell more than one million BMW and MINI brand vehicles. In volume terms, we are therefore performing better than the overall market”

The X5 SUV recorded the strongest H1 growth of BMW’s vehicle models, up 38.6% to 49,338 units. Sales of the top-selling 3-series were up 8.1% to 299,561.

BMW did not give H1 comparisons for its controversial new 7-series but noted that sales are running about 14% up on the old model for the eight month period since launch.

Only this week, arch-rival Mercedes accused the company’s US division of cooking the June sales figures by adding in extra units after making a preliminary announcement and offering $8,000 incentives to shift new 7s. BMW responded that it was only assisting dealers to buy loan cars for prospective buyers.

BMW figures show the Cooper accounted for 62% (38,816) of Mini volume in H1, 2002, compared with 20,151 (32%) to Ones and 3,445 (6%) Cooper S, the latter only launched in March 2002.