Nov 112012

Image courtesy of Yahoo Finance

Last week BMW released its October sales numbers in the U.S. The 2012 numbers continue to be impressive, with October year to year sales up 20.9 percent, and year to date sales up 6.7 percent. (These percentages exclude the Mini brand.)

Compared to the first two quarters however, the growth rate has slowed. As I wrote back in July, sales for the first six months of 2012 were up 11.3 percent compared to 2011. Despite greater availability and sales of the new 3 Series sedan and X3 (up 25.6 and 39.9 percent respectively, October to October), Q3 sales haven’t kept that pace. You can be sure the focus at BMW HQ will be getting that trend line back up in November and December. Greater numbers of the brand new X1 compact SUV should help on that front.

BMW prefers the term Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) for its light trucks. The latest sales numbers show that BMW increasingly is a truck company as much as a car company. Through October 2012, SAVs have accounted for 43.6 percent of BMW sales this year, up from 42.9 percent for 2011. With two more months to go in 2012 and cold weather in much of the country, that 2012 percentage may rise even further.

BMW is assured of surpassing the sales totals from 2011, the second best year in the company’s history. The question is by how much. It also seems likely that in the next 2-3 years, the company will sell more trucks than it does cars.

I don’t think BMW is looking forward to that day, from a market perception standpoint. As good as BMW SAVs are, it’s hard for a truck to symbolize the ultimate driving machine.

BMW may be trying to delay that day by how it reports sales. If you look at the graph above, the company is accounting for its new X1 under the passenger car category, not light truck.

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