January 10, 2014 / 9:11 AM / 5 years ago

China edges out U.S. as BMW's biggest market on 2013 sales

The logo of BMW is pictured during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Sales by German luxury carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) in China rose 20 percent last year to overtake the United States as the group’s biggest market.

BMW sold a record 390,713 BMW and Mini cars in China last year, up 19.7 percent from a year earlier, the company said in a statement on Thursday, outpacing the overall market growth of 13.9 percent. Its 2013 U.S. sales were up 8.1 percent to 375,782.

More and more Chinese consumers are buying luxury cars from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz as they get richer and seek more exclusivity, shrugging off the negative impacts from the anti-extravagance campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping last year.

China’s premium car market will grow at an annual rate of 12 percent through 2020, and overtake the United States as the world’s biggest market for luxury cars as early as 2016, according to consultancy McKinsey & Co.

“We achieved our 2013 targets, but it is even more satisfactory that the volume growth was backed by solid substance in every aspect of our work,” Karsten Engel, CEO of BMW Group Region China said in the statement.

“This proves our China strategy worked well and it will be adhered to in this year continuously.”

Engel told a news conference on Monday the group will introduce more than 10 new models in China, including its electric BMW i3, this year.

BMW will also expand its dealer network and ramp up local production of vehicles through its Chinese joint venture, according to transcripts of Engel’s remarks on Monday.

BMW brand car sales grew 19 percent to 362,100 units in China last year and Mini cars increased 23 percent to 28,613 vehicles.

Reporting by Samuel Shen and Kazunori Takada; Editing by Matt Driskill

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