BMW unveils record year

BMW highlighted today the growing gap between the European and American car markets by revealing record revenue for 2006 - a day after Ford posted the worst loss in its 103-year history.

The German carmaker said that revenues increased 5 per cent to €49 billion (£32.2 billion) buoyed by its BMW series 3 model, unit sales of which rose 17 per cent to 598,479 vehicles. Overall, BMW, which owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, said that vehicle sales rose 5.2 per cent to 1.2 million.

In contrast, Ford yesterday unveiled a record loss of $12.7 billion (£6.4 billion), beating its own worst deficit to date of $7.39 billion in 1992.

Losses in the fourth quarter swelled to $5.8 billion, after a fall in sales of its pick-up trucks, SUVs and 4x4s, as Americans turned instead to German and Japanese models.

While overall sales rose at BMW, it admitted that the volume of Minis sold had fallen by 6.2 per cent to 188,077, after changes to its Oxford-based manufacturing plant to increase its capacity to 240,000 cars a year.,00.html