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BMW Says 2006 China Car Sales Increased by 51.3%

German luxury carmaker BMW said Friday it sold 51.3% more cars in mainland China in 2006 compared with a year earlier.

Total sales came to 36,357 cars, up from 24,025 in 2005, it said in a statement. Sales of BMW brands rose 49.6% to 35,300 units, with Minis up 145.8% to 1,057 units.

In the Greater China area including Taiwan and Hong Kong, BMW moved 44,719 vehicles last year, up 35.4% from 2005.

Many other foreign automakers also reported strong China sales last year as they rolled out new models to attract buyers.

Ford, a relative latecomer to the world's second- largest auto market, saw its sales surge 86.6% to 166,722 vehicles. Volkswagen sold 711,298 vehicles, up 24.3%, and General Motors was up 31.8% to 876,747.

BMW, the world's largest premium car maker, has teamed up with Brilliance China Automotive to produce the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series in a venture with an annual capacity of 30,000 cars in China's northern city of Shenyang.

The industry expects the venture to expand because it is already operating near full capacity, but BMW has not revealed plans for it.