The world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW), reported impressive first quarter earnings and retained its 2013 forecast.

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The world’s leading maker of premium car by sales reported net profit of 1.31 billion euros ($1.73 billion) in the three months to March 31 compared with EUR1.35 billion in the same period last year. That was above the EUR1.15 billion average forecast of analyst estimates in a Dow Jones Newswires poll.

The luxury car group’s shares headed to a seven-week high in Frankfurt today and proved that even recession does not kill many people’s appetite for high-end cars.

BMW’s Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer expressed confidence to achieve further sales volume growth in the current year, which will again result in a new all-time high. He exuded confidence that due to high levels of expenditure for new technologies and models as well as investment in the production network, his company expects to report group profit before tax for 2013 on a similar scale to 2012.

The maker of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles expects new models and rising demand in China and the U.S. to shield it from the effect of the sovereign-debt crisis on Europe’s car market, which is sliding to a 20-year low. With the introduction of the 4-Series coupe and 3-Series GT, the luxury car is targeting record deliveries this year, while spending to maintain its lead over Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW) (ETR:VOW3)’s Audi AG (FRA:NSU) (ETR:NSU) and Daimler AG (ETR:DAI) (FRA:DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz erodes profit growth.

Some of the reasons attributable to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW)’s results include wealthy buyers have not had income drops during the recession like those of middle or lower classes.

In contrast, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars cut its earnings expectations for 2013 as sluggish demand for its trucks and small cars amid a revamp of its sales operation in China coincided with its own heavy capital-spending program.

BMW’s first-quarter Ebit narrowed to 9.9 percent of revenue from 11.6 percent margin a year earlier. Earlier this week, Audi AG (FRA:NSU) (ETR:NSU) posted an operating margin of 11.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, just lower on the year. Mercedes-Benz’s operating margin, in contrast, was just 3.3 percent.

BMW’s Chief Financial Officer expressed confidence that its earnings will hold steady this year as a decline in profit at the auto making business stemming from development costs and product-pricing pressure, is offset by gains at the financial- service division.

According to some industry analysts, the luxury car maker will roll out 25 new models by the end of next year, with 10 of them having no predecessor, in a bid to keep rivals at bay. Mercedes is bringing out 13 all-new models by the end of the decade. Audi (VOW3) plans to double its lineup of sport-utility vehicles to six by 2020.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW) anticipates difficult conditions in Europe to persist another five years. However it anticipates vehicle sales to increase in 2013, driven by strong demand from customers in North America and China.