DETROIT – BMW AG reports net profits of E632 million ($576 million) in the year’s first quarter, a 3.8% rise over the E609 million ($555 million) earned in the year ago period.

The Bavarian auto maker sold 260,462 BMW and Mini passenger vehicles in the quarter, a 17.4% increase over like-2001.

Overall revenues for the entire BMW Group – which includes motorcycle and financial services operations – rose 14% to E10.76 billion ($9.82 billion), credited in part to strong sales for the Mini and a 7.1% rise in profits at BMW’s motorcycle operations.

Profits at BMW’s automotive operations declined 7.2% to E914 million ($833.8 million) due to a one-off gain of E75 million ($68.4 million) reported in first quarter 2001 from the sale of excess land no longer required for operational purposes.

BMW says sales of its Mini brand vehicles continue to surpass expectations. The unit sold 27,691 units in the first three months. Sales of the BMW brand rose by 5% to 232,771 units.

Germany remains BMW’s largest market thanks to a reported 7.8% sales growth during the quarter. U.S. rose 16.3% to 54,392 vehicles. Positive sales momentum also was seen in the U.K. (+47.9%), France (+28.6%), Italy (+23%), Spain (+21.4%) and Belgium (+13.5%).

On a model basis, BMW says the 3-Series global grew by 9% to 146,442 units in the quarter, with convertible sales jumping 27.5% to 14,802 units. The X5 SUV saw sales swell 34.5% to 22,926 units.

The controversial new 7-Series saw sales grow 51.5% in the period, “well ahead” of plan, the auto maker says. Sales of the Z3 and 5-Series, however, continue to decline. The Z3 dropped 36.4% to 5,594 units and the 5-Series was off 13.8% to 46,051 units.

The company says there’s a distinct possibility it could sell over 1million BMW and Mini brand vehicles this year. There is optimism on the financial front, as well.

“Provided that economic conditions do not deteriorate unexpectedly, management believes that it will again be able to increase sales volumes, revenues and earnings,” BMW says in a statement.