BMW is planning more full hybrid variants based on its ‘ActiveHybrid’ technology platform.

Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer told the BMW Annual General Meeting today that the technology has already made the leap into series production with the recent launch of two BMW hybrids, the X6 and the 7 Series.

“Our top priority is the large model series because this is where the savings potential is greatest,” he said.

“As early as next year, the new BMW 5 Series will also be available as a full hybrid. And we are anticipating the hybridisation of further models series, such as the BMW 3 Series. We also work with modules in this field, choosing the most suitable hybrid solution for the respective model.”

Reithofer noted the importance of hybrids in Japan.

“The public perceives hybrid as a sign of eco-friendliness, despite the fact that diesel engines are often much more efficient. In Japan, for instance, the government has adopted a proposal to offer tax credits for hybrid vehicles. This has had a phenomenal effect on the market. Sales of hybrid vehicles have skyrocketed. If you don’t have a hybrid in your portfolio, soon you might not be selling any cars in Japan at all.”

Reithofer was upbeat about BMW’s performance in times of global economic crisis and the outlook, although he warned that the debt crisis in Europe means the crisis is not over yet.

“Many markets are recovering much more quickly than anticipated, however there are still numerous risks that might prolong a complete recovery.

“In Europe we are confronted with the financial problems of Greece. The European Union is doing its utmost to stabilise the Euro through massive intervention programs. We see that the crisis is not over yet.”

Reithofer did say, however, that BMW expects earnings to rise significantly year-on-year in 2010 and car sales to rise “in the solid single-digit percentage range” to more than 1.3m units.

The profit margin on earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT, at BMW’s core auto segment is forecast by BMW to be in the lower single-digit percentage range.

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