2013 BMW 3 Series

If you think the US economy is in bad shape, consider this: BMW is diverting "tens of thousands" of cars from European dealers to the US and Asia.

Ian Robertson, BMW sales chief, tells Automotive News that Europe faces "a lot of bumps on the road" before a sales recovery takes place. The publication says that region's automotive industry expects 2012 to show the biggest annual sales drop in 19 years.

BMW sold 14 percent more vehicles worldwide in September, with demand for the new 3-Series sedan in the US and China contributing big.

BMW officials didn't indicate what models it would divert from Europe.

How this will affect the sales race between BMW, Audi and Mercedes is unclear, especially since all three brands are feeling equal amounts of hurt. Also, there's no word on whether an expanded US inventory will spur BMW to offer deals to customers.