U.S. BMW Group Sales Shrink, Brand Sales Grow In August

Those who’ve been keeping tabs on monthly and quarterly sales figures from BMW and other automakers don’t need to be reminded of current uncertainty and turmoil in the applicable markets. But somehow, even with what looks like no immediate end in sight for talk of tariffs and implementation of protectionist policies, BMW managed to post positive brand sales expansion in the U.S. for the month of August.

The end of summertime is nearly upon us, and many parts of the country are already detecting the distinct chill entering the evening air, which means fall and inevitably winter will soon have their way with the landscape. Auto sales also seem to be cooling a bit as a whole, coming off some highs set during the summer months, but yearly cyclical trends indicate that the months of September through November typically bear witness to the year’s second of two peak periods. If things fall in line this time as they have perennially for the last few decades, BMW might be expecting to turn around group sales (BMW and MINI combined) around, after moving 1.5% fewer vehicles over the month of August compared with 2017 at 27,589 sold this year compared to 28,001 twelve months earlier.

BMW’s 1% brand sales growth resulted from deliveries of 23,789 new cars during during August, up from 23,553 in 2017. Dragging things down was a double-digit decline in passenger car sales of -13.5% coming from 14,450 units moved compared with 16,708 last year, and even a 36.4% increase in light truck sales (think X SAVs, SACs, etc) calculated from 9,339 delivered compared with 2017’s 6,845 just barely edged overall figures into black territory.

BMW NA President and CEO Bernhard Kuhnt says X models accounted for 53.6% of U.S. sales during August, and the third-generation X3 is leading the way across the board, as August was the fifth consecutive month where the model was the most popular of any current BMW. During 2018 alone, more than 100,000 X models have been sold so far, a number that is expected to continue its strong growth trend as the fourth-generation X5 hits the market soon.

It’s smooth sailing for BMW Group Electrified, a term which encompasses BMW i, iPerformance and MINI Electric models. Collectively, these models recorded another month of growth for August, with an increase of 6.2% originating from 1,836 sold in 2018 over 1,729 last year. Year-to-date Group Electrified sales are also forming a strong upward trend, with deliveries up 34.6% compared with 2017. Seven models with electrified drivetrains are currently available in the U.S., with the F15 X5 xDrive 40e slated to be replaced by the G05 X5 xDrive45e in just a few months.

MINI is still having a rough go of it, with sales of 3,800 units translating to a -14.6% decline from the 4,448 cars sold during August of 2017. Like BMW X models, the bulk of MINI sales are led by the Countryman which accounts for 40% of sales as a whole or 1,548 sold in August. Even with the headwinds, MINI is somehow down just -1% year-to-date.

BMW Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales decreased 4.3% from last year with 11,101 deliveries, but the non-certified pre-owned business saw an increase of 8.4% compared with August of 2017 resulting from 22,098 cars sold. The used car market is another bright spot for MINI as well, with 39.2% growth coming from sales of 1,370 CPOs, while 2,954 non-certified cars were sold, or 9.7% more than last year.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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