BMW Asia says Vietnam is a top growth market as economy expands


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BMW AG said its car sales in Vietnam are expanding at the fastest pace among markets in Southeast Asia as the nation’s economic growth spurs demand.
The company estimates its unit sales in the country will rise about 30 percent to 40 percent through 2017, according to Axel Pannes, managing director of BMW Group Asia, who heads 13 mostly developing Asian markets. BMW said it sold just over 1,500 cars last year in Vietnam, which it entered in 1993 and has been its top growth market in Southeast Asia for the last few years.
“It’s always depending on the political situation that’s quite volatile in some of the markets, but at the moment I’m very positive about Vietnam,” Pannes said in an interview in Singapore Thursday, referring to the markets under his charge. Assuming Vietnam remains stable, “I would see continuously, double-digit growth,” he said.
The luxury-car maker’s outlook for Vietnam comes as the government seeks an economic growth of 6.7 percent this year, with the nation’s participation in free-trade agreements also boosting the outlook. Pannes also said BMW was “very positive” about prospects in Myanmar and was looking into entering other markets such as Nepal.
Pannes, who has been managing director of BMW Group Asia since 2014, heads Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Bangladesh, Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
BMW Group Asia considers sales of about 100 units as the break-even level in a market.
The carmaker sold an estimated 100 units in Myanmar last year, a market it entered in 2014.
Pannes said BMW plans to enter Nepal in approximately two to three years, assuming the situation in the country stabilizes as expected after last year’s earthquakes.
Pannes is “very optimistic” about electric and hybrid car prospects in Sri Lanka, whose government is “very much supporting” these models.
In 2015, BMW sold just over 47,000 units in South Korea and just over 450,000 units in China.

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