German carmaker BMW announced it was slashing the price of its China-made sedans by up to US$12,080 as part of an effort to boost flagging sales. The company said it was making the move, cutting the price of its 3 and 5 Series cars by 13% to 14%, "to be more competitive and play a bigger role in China's car market." BMW says it sold 15,500 cars in China in 2004, down some 16% over 2003 sales. The announcement coincided with the release of overall sales figures for the Chinese car market, showing sales growth fell to 15% in 2004, down from 75% in 2003 according to the Ministry of Commerce. Looking to the future meanwhile, a report on the automotive industry by Merrill Lynch forecast growth in car sales would pick up in 2005, growing by around 22%, driven in part by falling prices. "We believe the market is currently overly pessimistic on Chinese car demand growth," Grace Mak, vice president of the investment bank's China equity research, told a news conference.
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