WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — The president of BMW of North America said Wednesday that the company strongly believes in continuing to offer leasing for its customers; however, he indicated that the company did shift APRs on purchases to drive a better balance.

As many know, it tends to be easier for consumers to stretch their budgets in order to drive a BMW when strong leasing deals are offered.

"We are strong believers that the premium market deserves a choice of both retail financing and leasing," said Jim O'Donnell, president of BMW of North America.

"We knew working our APR programs to add a bit more value to the ownership equation would get us a better balance with leasing. This month it's been exactly like this," he added.

Overall, combined BMW and Mini sales came in at 30,931 vehicles, an increase of 1 percent over the 30,639 vehicles sold in August 2007.

The BMW Group also reported a year-to-date sales volume of 217,821 vehicles, down 2.5 percent, compared with 223,341 vehicles in the same period of 2007.

Sales of BMW brand vehicles decreased 4.1 percent in August for a total of 25,462 compared with 26,562 reported in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date BMW brand sales were down 7.4 percent, to 180,889 vehicles compared with 195,436 vehicles sold in the same period in 2007.

"In the last six months in a tough economy we have seen premium brand sales largely supported by the Northeast region," said O'Donnell. "In August, however, the Southeast and West came back as a strong contributor to our BMW sales. A trend? Don't know, but a good sign."

Mini continues to go strong with sales of 5,469 units, up 34.1 percent from the 4,077 cars sold in August 2007. Year-to-date, the division reported sales of 36,932 automobiles, an increase of 32.3 percent, compared with the 27,905 cars reported in the first eight months of 2007.

"MINI continued to see strong demand in August and one that again lowered our inventory even more," explained Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA. "But good news is on the way as we have increased our allocation for the remainder of the year starting in September."

McDowell noted that 75 percent of all Mini customers will likely build their vehicles to order.

"This trend shows that Mini costumers continue to be those choosing more for lifestyle and individualization rather than just downsizing for fuel economy," he noted.