Stronger sales in the US and Britain helped push earnings higher at German luxury carmaker BMW AG in the first quarter.

Net profit rose 4 percent compared with the same period last year, to 1.515 billion euros ($1.70 billion).

Vehicle sales rose across all major markets for the world's top-selling maker of high-priced cars, with increases of 15 percent in Britain and 13 percent in the United States. The company saw strong demand for its X-series of SUVs and SUV-like crossovers. The X-5 sport-utility made in Spartanburg, South Carolina, recorded a sales rise of 30 percent.

Significantly, Munich-based BMW said Wednesday that it maintained its high profit margin of 9.5 percent, near the upper end of its target range of 8-10 percent.

Revenues rose 15 percent to 20.917 billion euros.