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Slowing sales not a concern: BMW

Series finale: BMW’s sixth-generation 3 Series will soon enter runout in the lead up the all-new model launching next year, but the premium mid-sizer is still recording strong sales of 2692 units this year.

X3 mid-size SUV props up BMW’s 2018 year-to-date tally as passenger cars fade

12 Nov 2018

BMW Australia says it is not worried about the premium-car market’s downturn this year despite the company’s sales falling 3.8 per cent in the first 10 months of 2018 to 19,913 units and predictions that the local market is close to hitting its ceiling.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the M2 and M5 Competition, BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the Bavarian brand’s sales downturn is still within acceptable margins.
“This year we’re down around four per cent on a year-to-date (YTD) basis, but really if you think about it in the general scheme of things, that’s quite a stable result – if you’ve got a variation up or down five per cent, that’s what we’d call a stable market,” she said.
“I think that we are certainly seeing a slowing down of the premium segment, but if you are looking at what’s happening there, it has affected some of our competitors quite a deal more than it has affected BMW.
“We’ve always maintained our own pace, we’ve always looked at our own sales strategies, and we continue to do that, and I think over the long haul, it’s certainly working for us at this point.”
Overall, the Australian new-car market is down 1.3 per cent to 971,723 units, meaning 2018 could be the first year since 2014 in which sales take a backwards step.
However, Ms Fletcher said she believes the Australian new-car market had reached its maturity, meaning as new competitors entered the premium space, sales would be taken from elsewhere. 
“I think we’ve had a lot of stimulation in the (premium) segment due to some changes of segmentation that we are seeing, so there’s been definitely growth in the lower sector of the premium segment and that has definitively expanded the premium segment,” she said.
“At the same time though, the overall sales of the entire market hasn’t really changed, so we are a mature market and we are in that situation where if you are getting growth in one area, then another area is going to pay for it.
“So I think we really are seeing a finite market here in Australia at the moment.”
In 2018, BMW’s sales have largely been buoyed by its resurgent X3 mid-size SUV, which launched in new-generation form late last year.
As BMW’s best-selling model, the X3 has hit 4259 sales to the end of October, a 42.7 per cent increase over the same period in 2017, representing more than 20 per cent of BMW’s bottom line.
The Bavarians brand’s next best-seller, the perennial 3 Series that is due to be replaced in new-generation form next year, is also in positive territory, moving up 21.3 per cent to 2692 sales year to date (YTD).
However, the 3 Series Gran Turismo body style has slid 49.1 per cent to 54 sales.
The only other model lines to record growth this year are the 1 Series hatchback (2165, +18.2%) and 6 Series GT (81, +440.0%), with the latter absorbing sales of the 5 Series GT (nine, -64.0%).
However, BMW’s remaining models have all lost ground in 2018, with the 2 Series Active Tourer struggling the most, down 83.7 per cent to just 101 new registrations, and its coupe and convertible nameplate-sharing siblings down 22.7 per cent to 1185 year to date (YTD).
Similarly, the 4 Series coupe/convertible and Gran Coupe models are also facing a downturn of 37.6 and 30.1 per cent respectively to 592 and 439 units, while the 6 Series coupe has also dropped 48.2 per cent to 57 units YTD.
The 5 Series sedan and wagon has dropped 41.8 per cent to 652 units, while the flagship 7 Series is also down 27.6 per cent to 105 units.
In terms of BMW’s eco-focused i models, the downturn is largely the same with the i3 dropping off 10.4 per cent to 95 sales despite the introduction of a facelift earlier this year, and the i8 sportscar, now available as a convertible, dropping 33.3 per cent to 14 units.
Of BMW’s SUV line-up, the X1 is down 19.2 per cent to 2634 (the brand’s third-best seller) and the X2 has added 988 incremental sales.
The new X4, which launched in September, has amassed 1201 sales (-11.2%), the X5 large SUV that is about to launch in new-generation form is down 28.2 per cent to 2277 units, and the X6 is down 23.5 per cent to 313 sales.
Finally, local stock of the outgoing second-generation Z4 convertible was exhausted last year as no new models have been registered in 2018 in the lead up to the new version’s launch in 2019.
Across other premium brands, only Alfa Romeo and Volvo have managed to stay in the green this year, the former up 26.7 per cent to 1088 on the back of the introduction of the Stelvio SUV, and the latter increasing 44.2 per cent to 5616 thanks to the debut of the XC40.
However, sales downturns have affected the rest of the luxury brands, including Infiniti (554, -17.9%), Jaguar (2132, -4.0%), Land Rover (8731, -18.6%), Lexus (7427, -3.1%) and Porsche (3399, -13.8%).
BMW’s archrivals and fellow German marques have also struggled this year, with Audi down 9.3 per cent to 16,360 and Mercedes-Benz Cars down 10.1 per cent to 28,148 sales.

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