BMW-Britain

BMW Board member Ian Robertson has admitted the continued growth of the UK new car market was something the brand didn’t expect.

“The UK has surprised all of us,” he said. “It has been the only market in the EU that has grown each year.”

What’s more, Robertson doesn’t see the new car registrations rally slowing down just yet, either – he predicts the market upturn will run well into 2014.

It’s such strong sales that have made Britain BMW’s fourth largest worldwide market, with 160,000 combined sales of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce. Not only that, the UK is “strategically important too – it is the home of two of our brands”.

Robertson does predict a recovery for the European market at long last next year though. So far this year, Europe has been down 4% – “But there may be signs things are changing,” he said: last month, European car sales topped the 1 million mark, with encouraging signs of recovery in Southern Europe.

“The markets may have bottomed out.”

For signs of what could be achieved in a strong recovery, look to the US, said Robertson. The market there post-2008 fell from 16.5 million to just 9.5 million units – but, this year, may well have returned back to the 16 million mark.

Europe, however, remains lagging around the 11 million mark, down from similar highs.

Sales thus tell a very different story on different sides of the Atlantic, he said: how long before they again start to run in parallel again?