Sales fell by 8.4 percent in the past year compared to 2019. Electric cars and plug-in hybrids were in greater demand.
The headquarters of the car manufacturer BMW in Munich.
The upswing in China cushioned the corona slump at the German car company BMW. In 2020, the Munich-based company sold a total of 2.3 million cars, 8.4 percent less than the year before, after they had feared a decline of around ten percent in December. In the fourth quarter there was even an increase in sales of 3.2 percent to 686,069 vehicles from the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, as the company announced on Tuesday.
However, almost all of this can be attributed to the economic upturn in China, where the economy is back to full steam. In total, BMW sold 777,379 cars last year, almost every third vehicle in China. As with Daimler, the People's Republic is by far the most important single market.
Burglary in Europe and the USA
In Europe and the USA, however, the traces of the pandemic can still be clearly seen. In the year as a whole, almost 16 or almost a fifth fewer BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars were sold.
Sales collapsed, especially in the spring, because plants had closed for months and dealers could not receive any customers. In the meantime, BMW has expanded digitalization so that new vehicles can be assembled and sold without direct contact with the dealer. Nevertheless, even at the end of the year, sales were below the level of the pre-corona year 2019.
Cars with electric drives are enjoying increasing popularity – above all thanks to the government's electric car bonuses: With 192,646 vehicles, BMW sold almost a third more electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the full year than in 2019, with an increase of 55 percent in the fourth quarter alone.
Car buyers mainly opted for cars that can be operated with both gasoline and electricity: The sales increase for plug-in hybrids was almost 40 percent, and for purely electric cars the increase was 13 percent. Thanks to the more than 135,000 electrified vehicles, BMW exceeded its fleet targets in Europe and fell below the CO2 limit by a few grams, said sales manager Pieter Nota. BMW currently has 13 electric models on offer, with 25 to be expected by 2023. Production of the BMW iX in Dingolfing in Lower Bavaria and the BMW i4 in Munich are planned for this year.
The Daimler subsidiary Mercedes Benz had recently benefited from increasing demand in China. Sales fell by 7.5 percent to just under 2.2 million vehicles for the year as a whole; only in the Far East were more cars sold. BMW and Daimler both claim the title as the world's leading premium brand.