China will likely top the United States as BMW's largest national market in 2013 as the brand penetrates further the country's smaller cities with its 5-series sedan. BMW's first half deliveries in China already surpassed its same-period figures in the US, Karsten Engel, head of BMW's business in China, told Bloomberg.
He added that they expect to post a 10-percent gain in sales in the Asian country in full year 2013. He remarked that strong growth in future will come from the smaller cities and especially from the western region of China. He noted that around 100 cities with populations of more than a million in China have with no premium car dealers, BMW see this as a huge opportunity in the country.
According to researcher Nielsen, around 68 percent of China's potential car buyers in the next 12 months will be residents of smaller cities. While BMW is still behind Audi in luxury-vehicle sales in China, the carmaker has outpaced its main rival in the past three years.
BMW posted a 40-percent jump in deliveries in China in 2013 while Audi logged a 30-percent gain. BMW, however, is unmoved by recent actions of other premium carmakers like Cadillac and Jaguar Land Rover to boost output and capacity in China, according to Engel, who said they are "enjoying competition."
BMW posted a 15-percent gain in sales in China in the first half of 2013 to 182,800 cars and sport-utility vehicles, including deliveries by the Mini brand. BMW logged a 9-percent growth in sales in the US in the same period 172,787 units. The BMW brand grew 16 percent in China in the first half of 2013 to 170,730 vehicles. BMW saw its 5 series gain 28-percent in the period. [source: automotive news - sub. required]