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March 20, 2003

GERMANY: BMW chairman admits nervousness over his country’s stance on Iraq war

BMW is worried that Germany's stance on the war in Iraq posed a "hidden risk" to the company's sales in North America, the Daily Telegraph reported. The paper said the US is already BMW's biggest market in terms of revenues, with sales of 13.5 billion euros (£9.2 billion) last year and is also poised to overtake the sluggish German market in terms of car sales for the first time this year.

By bcusack

BMW is worried that Germany’s stance on the war in Iraq posed a “hidden risk” to the company’s sales in North America, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The paper said the US is already BMW’s biggest market in terms of revenues, with sales of 13.5 billion euros (£9.2 billion) last year and is also poised to overtake the sluggish German market in terms of car sales for the first time this year.

According to the Telegraph, chairman Helmut Panke said: “So far our dealers in America do not see any adverse impact. But I read the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post and there is a change in the way people talk about Germany.

“Before, they said: ‘This is a statement from the German Chancellor.’ Then they started attributing statements to ‘Germany’ and now it is ‘The Germans’ they refer to. So there is a hidden risk that if this shift materialises, the friendship and partnership between Germany and America could suffer.”

The Daily Telegraph said any drop in BMW’s sales in the US would undermine the company’s efforts to maintain the record profits it has made this year. Because BMW only sells its more expensive models in the US, the market is by far its most lucrative. Last year, the group achieved 20% growth in America, compared with 5% in Germany, the report added.

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