The way automakers report their sales is changing. BMW is joining the likes of General Motors and Ford, along with Porsche who is also planning to make the switch from monthly to quarterly sales reporting later this year. While GM began the practice in 2018, with Ford following last year, BMW plans to switch starting April of this year, when it will report first quarter North American sales results. Executives from various automakers have been quoted as expressing their preference for quarterly as opposed to monthly reporting, owing to its ability to smooth out some of the dramatic ebbs and flows inherent with the shorter term.
The announcement comes not long after news of the SEC looking into BMW’s sales U.S. sales practices broke in late December. North American BMW sales exceeded those of rival Mercedes-Benz for the first time last year since 2016. While some news outlets describe the triumph as coming with an asterisk, the two primary factors behind BMW’s strong sales in the U.S. are models like the X3 and X5, and M cars. BMW set separate records in these two segments last year, selling more M and M Performance cars (and cars optioned M Sport package) than ever before, while the factory responsible for building almost the entire X lineup set a new production record.
Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer said, “Monthly sales figures rarely capture the overall picture of how our business is developing,” and the executive has a point. Although keeping up with monthly sales reports over the long term allows the observant and astute to pick up on some of the important, long term trends, it’s also easy to get caught up in year-over-year and year-to-date percentages. The bigger picture is where moving averages and other tools of statistical analysis are at their most accurate, and looking a greater time-frame for auto sales while also taking into account seasonality may allow for a clearer impression of what’s actually happening.
BMW, Porsche, GM, and Ford aren’t the only ones making the switch. Fiat-Chrysler anncouned it would end monthly reports in the U.S. and Canada in May of 2019, rounding out Detroit’s Big Three, while Nissan is also making the move. Mercedes-Benz is said to have no plans to make the switch at the current moment. BMW’s first North American quarterly sales report is due out in April, and you can expect a full interpretation here on BimmerLife then.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]