Luxury car maker, BMW, said Wednesday it planned to launch its own small car that might be based on its Mini model to serve a sector that is developing rapidly.
“We expect by 2020 growth of between four to six percent” in the market for small, high-end automobiles, BMW boss Norbert Reithofer told a press conference in Munich, southern Germany.
“We want to be more present, not just with Mini but also with BMW,” he said.
“On the frame of future Mini generations, we could imagine building a BMW,” development director Klaus Draeger added, without giving any launch date.
But Reithofer stressed he wanted BMW to remain “a high-end manufacturer and not a mass manufacturer” that would remain “independent” as the sector looks to consolidation for survival.
The group sold 1.29 million vehicles last year, including 216,000 Minis, and builds motors for small cars in partnership with the French group Peugeot.
On the earnings side, BMW expected a “notable” increase in net profit this year after managing to end 2009 in the black despite a global sector crisis, Reithofer said.
The group forecast sales of more than 1.3 million vehicles, which whould keep it ahead of Audi and Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz.
BMW stood by its 2009 net profit of 210 million euros (290 million dollars), a drop of 36.4 percent from the previous year, on sales that slipped by 4.7 percent to 50.68 billion euros.
“We have significantly reduced costs in all sectors of activity,” Reithofer said in the group’s home town of Munich.
In addition to its eponymous automobiles, BMW owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands and also sells high-end motorcycles.
On an operating basis, the automobile division suffered a net loss of 265 million euros however, compared with a profit of 690 million in 2008.
BMW’s financial services unit turned in a profit of 355 million euros meanwhile, erasing the loss of 216 million from a year earlier.