BMW reported Q1 revenues up by 3.9% to EUR18.2bn from EUR17.54bn in the same period last year and forecast group sales this year would top 2m for the first time. Last year it sold 1.96m vehicles.

Chairman Norbert Reithofer said in a statement he expected also to see record profit before tax in 2014 thanks to the 16 new or revised models the company is launching this year.

These include the 4 series Gran Coupé and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in June followed by the X4 in July 2014. The 2 series Tourer will go on sale in the fourth quarter.

Group earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased by 2.6% to EUR2.09bn. In the automotive division, Q1 revenues rose by 4.1% to EUR16.5bn with EBIT at EUR1.58bn, the same as a year ago and a margin of 9.5%. This compares with a 7% margin at Mercedes-Benz and 10.1% at Audi.

BMW said the reason for the lack of growth in automotive EBIT was substantial expenditure on new technologies, tougher competition and increased personnel costs – the group now has 111,378 employees worldwide, a 4.6% increase on year ago levels of 106,470.

Group sales in Q1 rose 8.7% to a new first quarter record of 487,024 with BMW brand sales growing 12.3% to 428,259, the first time sales have topped 400,000 units in Q1.

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BMW said sales in Q1 were largely driven by the success of its SUV range. Sales of the X1 rose by 14.8% to 43,262 units while the X3 achieved an increase of 10.9% to 40,125 units. The new X5 saw sales volume up by 13.8% to 31,025 units.