BMW is confident of achieving its sales targets for 2003 after a positive initial response to its new 5 series sedan, Dow Jones reported.

“After the reception of the new 5 series we’re completely confident that we can achieve what we set out to,” chief executive Helmut Panke told journalists late Tuesday, according to the news agency.

After a 5.5% fall in sales of BMW brand cars in the first half, the launch of the new 5 series is the company’s main hope for resurrecting sales of its core brand, Dow Jones said.

The report said the 5 series sedan was launched in Western Europe about three weeks ago and, traditionally, the model line has been one of the company’s key products in terms of volume and profit with BMW aiming to sell more than 190,000 of the luxury cars in 2004 and more than 1.45 million over its life cycle.

According to Dow Jones, BMW’s board member for sales, Michael Ganal, said the company was very pleased with orders of the 5 series thus far and that production is being rapidly ramped up. He reportedly said the company will produce 16,000 of the new cars in July and aims to reach full capacity of 700 cars a day after three months.

Ganal also said that BMW plans to consolidate its sales structure in Europe in preparation for new European Union regulations governing car sales, Dow Jones added.

The news agency said BMW will take over the distribution of its products in Greece, Ireland, Denmark, and Luxembourg from importers, saying that it could better ensure customer service when it is itself present in the markets.

Under the new EU rules, which take effect in October, dealers are able to sell cars from multiple car makers and can sell across borders but aren’t required to service cars, Dow Jones noted, adding that the new rules are intended to boost competition by opening up the market to new entrants such as supermarkets.