The world's leading luxury carmaker BMW said on Thursday it booked a record profit last year thanks to strong demand for luxury vehicles in the United States and China.
The Munich-based group said net profit rose 4.4 per cent to 5.1 billion euros (6.6 billion dollars) last year, underpinned by an 11.7-per-cent rise in total revenue to 76.848 billion euros.
As a result, BMW pulled further ahead of its rivals - Volkswagen's luxury offshoot Audi and Mercedes Benz - in the race to be the world's number one premium carmaker.
"The past year has been the most successful year in the BMW group's corporate history, with new high levels achieved for sales volume, revenues and group earnings," said BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer.
"We have achieved or surpassed all of our targets for 2012 in the face of very challenging market conditions", he said.
Releasing the results, Reithofer also reaffirmed that group sales would post another record this year.
"We are again targeting further sales volume growth worldwide in 2013 and hence a new record level for deliveries," he said.
But he warned "economic conditions are likely to remain challenging in many markets."
The group said worldwide deliveries of its stable of brands including its flagship BMW, compact Mini and top-of-the-range Rolls-Royce rose by 10.6 per cent to a new high of 1.85 million units.
This followed a 31.4-per-cent surge in sales in Asia. For the first time, BMW group sales in China topped 300,000.
Sales in the United States jumped by 13.8 per cent to 348,532 units.
The gains in sales in Asia and the United States helped to offset a weaker performance in Europe, where the car market is battling to overcome a recession..
Sales in Europe edged up by 0.8 per cent to 865,417 units last year, BMW said.
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