Unlike its fellow German automakers selling in the U.S., BMW AG experienced an increase in September 2001 sales, up 4.4% compared to a year-ago.

BMW of North America CEO Tom Purves says it's no surprise to him, seeing as BMW's own research has shown people are clamoring for the brand now more than ever.

“BMW has been very consistent over many years with its marketing. We haven't varied or wavered from that,” says Mr. Purves. “We've simply stuck with it, but in doing so over a long period of time you create a desire and a demand in a consumer group. We track all of this. The demand and desire to own a BMW has never been higher.”

Mr. Purves says recent models launched have been “really suitable for the U.S. market.” He points to the X5 sports/utility vehicle (or Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW calls it), Z8 ultra-luxury roadster, the latest 3-series convertible and the M3 high-powered sportscar, as successes.

Mr. Purves also credits dealers for BMW successes of late.

“They work extremely hard to not only obviously sell cars and make money, but to actually ensure their customers are happy so they come back again,” he says. “There's never been a better time to be a BMW dealer and never been a better time to be involved in the BMW business.”

However he says BMW must now work to avoid complacency in the marketplace — and prepare itself for the uncertain post-traumatic effects of Sept. 11.

“The economic conditions we're operating in are not as strong as a year ago,” he says. “We don't know yet how the economic effects of Sept. 11 are going to play out. We are all optimistic…but I'm a realist, this thing has been a bitter blow.”

He expects the next couple of quarters will be weaker for the market and economy.