German luxury car makers have had a strong first quarter for sales, setting new records on the back of soaring demand in emerging markets, with China in the lead.
BMW, the world's leading premium auto manufacturer, said on Friday that first quarter group sales rose an annualised 21.3 percent to 382,758 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles, its best result ever for the three-month period.
In March alone, the group posted sales of 165,842 for a 12-month gain of 17 percent to surpass its previous monthly record in December 2007.
Sales director Ian Robertson said that "2011 got off to an excellent start for the BMW group..thanks to our attractive model range and healthy auto markets in many parts of the world."
Sales of BMW brand cars gained 14.6 percent to 134,892 in March and 20.8 percent to 321,175 for the first three months of the year.
Although they represent a small part of the total, Rolls-Royce sales more than doubled in both periods, to 261 and 723, respectively.
Earlier in the week, rival Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, reported the best quarter in its history, with a gain of 18.4 percent to 312,600 vehicles.
For the month of March alone, Audi posted a sales increase of 13.9 percent to 125,700.
Meanwhile, Daimler said sales of its Mercedez-Benz models rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter to 280,500, and by 7.7 percent for March alone to 118,357.
A total of 25,000 Smart city cars also moved off Daimler dealers' lots in the three-month period, a gain of 9.8 percent, it said.
All three German groups forecast record sales for 2011 as a whole.