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BMW sales accelerate ahead of rivals

BMW has reported a 2.5% increase in its first quarter pre-tax profits to €851m (£575.5m) and said it was on course to produce record results in 2004.

The increase in profits came on the back of a 4.9% increase in revenues to €10.8bn (£7.3bn) in the first three months of 2004. After a slow start in January, BMW said sales volumes had increased as the quarter progressed and sales of BMW and Mini brand vehicles had reached record levels in March.

"The positive feedback received by the new models and the first signs of a revival in the automobile sector reinforce the BMW Group in its aim to achieve sales volume growth for all brands and also to generate its best result to date,” says Helmut Panke, BMW chief executive.

At BMW net profits were also up 2.5% at €523m (£353.2m). In total, the group delivered 269,973 BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce brand cars to customers in the first quarter.

Las week DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes Car group reported which last week reported a 7% fall in operating profits for the same period to €639m (£432.1m).

Volkswagen reported a near halving in first quarter operating profits to €329m (£222.5m). However, Audi reported an increase in profits of €232m (£157m) to €248m (£167.7m).

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