Amid a challenging automotive sales market and after a string of lackluster sales reports, March 2019 marked a month of expansion for the BMW Group, which recorded growth of 2.8% year-over-year thanks to 263,319 BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce deliveries. The positive move in March also helped to reset the year-to-date figures, which are now largely unchanged over last year’s first-quarter total with an increase of 0.1% to 605,333 unit sales. An additional highlight, according to sales chief Pieter Nota, is the BMW brand ranking first in the U.S. among other premium competitors in terms of sales volume.
The BMW brand also posted strong numbers for March, with a total of 221,631 deliveries translating to a positive change of 3.7% over last March. For 2019 so far, this brings total BMW-brand sales to 519,307 units, or 0.4% more than the first quarter of 2018. Vehicles from the X portfolio are, of course, primary growth drivers right now, but the new 3 Series is also selling well. With 3 Series sedan availability ramping up, BMW’s best-selling model carded double-digit growth of 10.8%, with 30,204 units delivered around the globe during March.
BMW Group Electrified sales were also up in March, owing to 12,068 deliveries translating to growth of 2.1%. Again, the year-over-year numbers have had a positive impact on the year-to-date results, which are up 0.7% with 27,044 vehicles sold during the first quarter. The i3 continues to defy expectations quite a few model years after being introduced, with first quarter sales up 16.2% over the last year thanks to 9,227 of the largely carbon-fiber EV having been sold—the most ever in a single quarter.
MINI sales continued to struggle in March, with a 2.1% decrease resulting from unit sales of 41,175. So far in 2019, MINI brand sales are down 1.8%, with 84,820 delivered around the world. A few new models are on the horizon, however, such as the updated MINI Clubman—which will be unveiled by the time you’re reading this— and the launch of a full EV later this year.
Rolls-Royce sales jumped 53.1% during March, but the low-volume, ultra-premium market is one of small numbers on a relative scale to BMW or MINI. The strong growth came from the sale of 513 vehicles in March alone, a new record for the prestigious marque, which has a 115 year history. Year-to-date, Rolls-Royce is up 49.4%, having sold 1,206 vehicles.
BMW Motorrad is off to a running start in 2019. Sales are up 9.9% for March, with 18,931 deliveries taking place during the month, while the first three months of the year also went well, owing to sales of 38,606 units, a 7.7% increase.
Breaking up the globe by region, all major markets contributed to sales growth, with Europe, Asia, and the Americas up 3.1%, 3.7% and 1%, respectively. Year-to-date figures are more of a mixed bag, with some key markets, like Germany and the U.S., remaining negative, while the rest are safely in the black. Managing to pull off respectable increases in all major markets also runs contrary to current market trends, meaning that demand for BMW Group products is strong enough to offset the broader tone in the auto market. This positive momentum is expected to continue, according to sales leadership, as the BMW Group continues its sharp focus on profitability rather than sheer volume.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]