BMW sales plummet

Global sales at BMW, the world's top premium carmaker, plunged by a quarter in November, and Honda backed out of Formula One racing on Friday as the economic downturn exacted a mounting toll on automakers.

With even well-heeled consumers keeping a tight grip on their wallets, group vehicle sales at BMW fell 25.4 percent to 96,570 units, led down by a 26.2 percent drop at the flagship BMW brand, it said.

Car sales across the globe have plummeted as consumers curb spending in the face of mass layoffs and a credit crunch, pushing big U.S. carmakers to the brink and heaping pressure on their foreign rivals, too.

In Germany, Europe's biggest auto market, new car sales are expected to hit post-reunification lows this year and next before recovering somewhat in 2010, the VDA auto industry association forecast this week.

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