U.S. BMW Sales Outperform Mercedes In 2019, Growth Continues In December

Both the BMW brand and BMW North America as a whole saw sustained in growth in 2019, which continued into December thanks to models like the 3 Series, X3, X5, and X7. The BMW brand saw 35,746 deliveries during December, a year-over-year increase of 4.0% from the 34,357 units sold twelve months prior. Even with MINI continuing its now steady double-digit decline each Month, BMW NA also posted a positive number; 38,056 deliveries translated to a 2.4% increase from the year-over-year total of 37,154. Both also ended up positive for 2019, with 324,826 BMW brand deliveries in 2019 representing a healthy 4.4% increase over the 311,014 delivered during 2018, and BMW NA posted growth of 1.8% thanks to unit sales growing from 354,698 to 360,918. As noted, MINI continues to be a drag on BMW NA’s bottom line, with brand sales declining 17.4% year-over-year from 2,797 to 2,310, and from 43,684 to 36,092 year-to-date, another 17.4% decrease.

According to Bloomberg, it was enough to best rival Mercedes-Benz yearly U.S. sales for the first time since 2016. During 2019, the BMW brand outsold Mercedes in the U.S. every month except for January and February, even though the margin was quite slim at times. For the year in total, BMW outpaced Mercedes by more than 8,700 units, a decent separation that only widened in December, when BMW brand sales were strong at 35,746 units, compared with just 30,294 MB deliveries. BusinessWire and Bloomberg are reporting that Mercedes sold 316,094 vehicles in 2019, a figure that does not include vans.

Once again, it was BMW models like the 3 Series, X3, X5, and X7 that carried the brand during December, and it seems that as time goes on, drivers just can’t get enough of BMW’s line of SAVs. While the 3 Series had a good month December, thanks to sales growing 64.7% year-over-year from 3,184 to 5,245, it’s important to remember that a year ago, the F30 was being phased out ahead of the market launch of the new G20. Demand for the seventh-generation 3 Series has been respectable in 2019, its first model year on sale with things getting started during the second quarter, but 3 Series sales, once BMW’s bread and butter, were up just 7.4% year-to-date through December, with deliveries expanding from 44,578 to 47,827.

Meanwhile, X3 sales once again took a slight breather in December, but the sheer volume still speaks for itself. Last month, 8,090 of BMW’s most popular entry-level SAV were sold, a decrease of 4.9% year-over-year from 8,511. The X3 posted double-digit growth for 2019 though, and it’s clear that it remains the undisputed sales leader with deliveries growing 14.3% from 61,351 to 70,110 year-to-date through December. The X5 is continuing to sell in large numbers as well. December saw 7,757 deliveries, a year-over-year increase of 5.9% over 7,323, while BMW’s staple midsize SAV recorded growth of 21.3% in 2019, thanks to sales growing from 45,013 to 54,595. Things are also going swimmingly for the largest BMW ever, the X7. During December, 3,159 of BMW’s luxury three-row SUV were sold, which brought the 2019 total to 21,574 units—an impressive figure for its first year on sale.

Although MINI managed to log double-digit decreases across the board for December and 2019 collectively, the brand actually saw some model sales growth during the final month of the year. The convertible version of the Cooper and Cooper S saw sales grow 84.3% from 134 to 247 units, while the Clubman also caught some wind in its sails, with deliveries growing from 277 to 232, an increase of 16.6% year-over-year. All MINI models lost ground in 2019 through December.

MINI pre-owned sales also decreased across the board. MINI CPO sales shrank 5.9% from 988 to 930 year-over-year, and also come in negative for 2019 as a whole with deliveries decreasing 6.6% from 13,539 to 12,648. Total MINI pre-owned sales were also down by similar numbers. Sales of 2,341 units during December represented a year-over-year decrease of 4.9% from 2,461, and for 2019, sales declined from 31,867 to 29,760, another decrease of 6.6%. The pre-owned market is certainly treating the BMW brand a lot better. December was a strong month for BMW CPO sales, which posted a gain of 16.8% from 9,858 to 11,516 year-over-year. During 2019, BMW CPO sales amounted to 119,679, which comes in 2.9% short of 2018, which saw 123,290 unit sales. Looking at the bigger picture, BMW total pre-owned sales expanded 8.7% from 21,388 to 23,242 year-over-year in December, which brought the 2019 total to 253,450, a 3.6% gain over the 244,664 units sold in 2018.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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