BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's BMW AG reported Friday a 4.3 percent decrease in sales for 2008, attributing the fall to the global economic crisis and increased reluctance among consumers to make big purchases.
The automaker said it sold 1,435,876 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles last year worldwide. The market took a sharp turn lower at the end of the year, with sales dropping a stunning 26.4 percent in December from a year earlier amid the deepening global economic crisis.
Sales of the flagship BMW brand slumped 5.8 percent over 2007, falling to 1,202,239 vehicles worldwide. The drop was particularly acute in the key U.S. market, where sales slid 15.2 percent to 249,113 vehicles in 2008.
"2008 was a tough year for the automotive industry worldwide," board member Ian Robertson said in a statement.
On the brighter side, the Munich-based company said it set new sales records for both its Mini and Rolls-Royce units in 2008.
Mini's sales were up 4.3 percent over the previous year to 232,425 cars, while the Rolls-Royce super-luxury brand saw a sales increase of 20 percent over 2007 with a total of 1,212 vehicles sold.
BMW's motorcycles division saw steady sales near last year's record high, with a decline of only 0.8 percent to 101,685 sold in 2008.
BMW shares were up 1.26 percent in midday Frankfurt trading to euro22.28 ($30.34) per share.