BMW chief financial officer Friedrich Eichiner expects the US to overtake Germany as the luxury car maker’s largest sales region again in coming years due to a positive demographic trend and because many older vehicles there need to be replaced soon. He added that the automaker could see double-digit sales growth in the US in 2012.

“We’re optimistic about growth potential in the U.S.,” Eichiner told Dow Jones Newswires. He said the German market is expected to show little growth in coming years. The US was BMW’s largest sales region until the financial crisis hit in 2008 and demand for new cars slumped.

Eichiner said the recent austerity measures in Europe to solve the sovereign-debt crisis are “going in the right direction”. “The question now is if the countries are ready to really implement the reforms,” he said.

Eichiner said the new-generation 3-series is set to drive both sales volume and earnings as it will reap net cost savings of up to 9% compared with the previous model, thanks mainly to lower purchasing prices and sharing parts and components.

After an early 2012 launch, BMW will expand the 3-series range during the year, including a full-hybrid model to be launched in autumn.

The line’s main markets are expected to be the US, China, the UK and Germany. Eichiner said China is poised to emerge as second-largest market for the upcoming 3-series generation behind the US but ahead of Germany and the UK.

Earlier this month, BMW posted new quarterly records for third-quarter sales volume, revenues and earnings and said growth was set to continue next year. Eichiner said market volatility will persist in coming years as the economic outlook remains uncertain.

BMW is spending over EUR1bn in its plants to launch the new-generation 3-series. It builds the line in Munich and Regensburg and in Rosslyn, South Africa.