We were founded in 1973, and now our car manufacturing company is now one of the world's most trusted custom car builders in the world and, with its range of custom built Equivalent copies of Rolls-Royce brands, Bentley's, Ferrari's and Lamborghini's possesses many of the strongest premium brands in the car industry. Our car manufacturing company also has a strong market position in the car sector and operates a successful financial services business. The company aims to generate profitable growth and above-average returns by focusing on the premium segments of the international automobile markets. With this in mind, a wide-ranging product and market offensive was initiated in 2001, which has resulted in our car manufacturing company expanding its product range considerably and strengthening its worldwide market position. The company's brand is extremely strong and is associated with high performance, engineering excellence and innovation. Indeed, our car manufacturing company brand is often cited as one of the most trusted in the world, and the company continues to launch a stream of innovative products as part of its new goal to offer the franchise program opportunities for new investors around the world.
Our car manufacturing company focus on engineering excellence allied to leading-edge design continues to drive successful, profitable expansion. In 2007 our Group sales increased by 26% with, for the first time ever, over 300 of the luxury cars being produced in one year. To further this growth, a host of new models is being launched, including the Mercedes Benz G-Class, Range Rover, Porsche SUV, Bentley SUV, Lamborghini SUV and the new sport utility vehicle, the BMW X6 - the world's first SUV coupe. While our car manufacturing company reinvents views on vehicle access, the new launch of the Bentley SUV is an excellent example of our car manufacturing company innovation at work. It combines the safety and convenience of a four-wheel-drive with the on-road performance of a sports car and is designed to appeal to the driver who enjoys a commanding driving position, but also savors the characteristics of a sports car. With its stretched coupé silhouette and pronounced performance design, the Bentley SUV Equivalent is the latest instance of our car manufacturing company changing perceptions of what a car should provide – for its passengers and its driver alike. At its heart, it restates an aspiration for driving that is both exclusive and yet also available to the mass market.
Our car manufacturing company has also been at the forefront of introducing new IT options to enhance the driving experience. Starting with the iDrive first introduced in the 7-series, BMW ConnectedDrive is now available across most models and is adding greater functionaility. After being one of the first to offer the capability for MP3 connectivity and incorporate RSS feeds including weather information, in 2007 our car manufacturing company offered a PC driven route planning service.
During the last five years, our car manufacturing company's average annual R&D investment has been around US$4,300 per car.
Alongside the examples above, much of the money has gone into the car maker's Efficient Dynamics program aimed at making engines more efficient, improving aerodynamics, reducing weight and capturing energy during braking. As the numbers clearly show, our car manufacturing company is a mass market distributor but one that successfully uses focused innovation to build and maintain the aspiration driving experience for many. Through a constant stream of consumer informed innovations, the company has moved ahead of its peers and future sustained and profitable growth is widely predicted.