Apr 042014
BMW sales

image courtesy of bimmerfest.com

BMW sales numbers are out and the company had a big month in March. For BMW brand vehicles month to month sales were up 18.6 percent and YTD sales up 11.5 percent. Mini sales are reported together with BMW in the United States and they were down almost 40 percent as that brand awaits new models.

BMW models and styles continue to proliferate, which accounts for some of the increased numbers. But having said that, these sales figures are an impressive accomplishment. Here are the numbers by model, with some important totals highlighted by me in yellow:

data via PRNewswire

data via PRNewswire

What do these numbers suggest? To state the obvious some percentage increases are more important than others. A small increase in a large volume model like the 3/4 series is much better for the bottom line than a big increase for a niche vehicle like the Z4. Before the recent model explosion, you could pretty much look at how the 3-Series and 5-Series models — the two volume lines — were selling and know how BMW was doing overall.

Today that’s no longer the case. The current 3-Series (F30 in BMW geek speak) and the now differentiated two door 4-Series (F32) are holding their own, up over 14 percent year to year. That makes sense, because the 4-Series is new for this year. The older F10 5-Series has been out since 2o10 and its sales are down by 27.2 percent. In the past this would have spelled trouble for the bottom line.

Not today, for two main reasons. One I’ve discussed previously — BMW is increasingly becoming a light truck company. The current F25 X3 has been out since 2011 and continues to sell like hotcakes, up 46.2 percent MTM and 44.6 percent YTD. And BMW looks to have a big hit on its hands with the E84 X1, which has been produced since 2010 but was just brought to North America in 2013. Sales were up almost 56 percent MTM (4,307 vehicles), and 47.3 percent YTD.

Who says Americans don’t like hatchbacks? They do, you just need to make them a little bigger, more powerful and call them something else. Crossover maybe, or BMW’s typically unique term, Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV). This is why Porsche is coming out with the Mahan, a little brother to its popular Cayenne SUV. But don’t make them too big — you can see from the sales numbers the larger hatch-like BMW X6 is a dud in the American market.

The second main reason is the success of the expanded 6-Series. Mechanically very similar to the 5-Series, the latest F12 family was introduced in 2011. A Gran Coupe (which is what BMW chooses to call the four door version) was added last year. In all of 2011, BMW sold 3,903 6-Series vehicles. In March of this year alone, BMW sold 3,063.

The 6-Series seems poised to become the first new high volume car line in a long time for BMW. (First that is depending on how you view the X1 – hatchback or light truck).

I’m very happy with my two older M cars, and none of these new vehicles makes me want to rush into a dealership anytime soon. But these BMW sales numbers don’t lie. You have to credit the company with doing an excellent job of producing and marketing vehicles people in this market want to buy.



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