Erin reports that BMW's press conference at the NAIAS was a happy occasion for the company, and for Helmut Panke and Tom Purves (North America), with an abundance of good news. (Of course, if you were sitting in the new M roadster, like Helmut Panke, above, you'd probably be happy, too!)

2005 was a record year for the BMW Group (BMW, Rolls Royce, and MINI), with worldwide unit sales up 9.9 percent to 1,328,000. BMW sales increased 103,200 (10.1 percent) to 1,127,000, and the 3-, 5-, and 7-series models led all three market segments for the first time. Sales for the X3 and the new 1- and 6-series were healthy, and according to BMW, show that their portfolio expansion strategy is on the right track.

MINI sales were also strong, up 8.7 percent and breaking the 200,000 unit mark for the first time. MINI sales volume has grown every year since the car's introduction, with 60 percent of buyers going for the top of the line 'S' model.

Sales for Rolls Royce were slightly up, but with nearly 800 new Phantoms sold, the company is the clear leader in its market segment.

For the U.S. market, Tom Purves reported BMW's 14th straight year of sales growth, with a 2.5 percent increase over 2004.

More on BMW's M Roadster in a separate post.

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