By on February 3, 2009

The fact that BMW’s sales are down compared to January of last year should come as no surprise. These aren’t just cars, they’re luxury goods. What’s significant is the breakdown of model sales. The 3-Series and X5 sold 5471 units combined—44% of BMW’s entire sales for the month of January. Add in the 2596 units of 5-Series sold and between those three models (3, 5, X5) you have twice as many cars as the rest of BMW’s lineup combined. To wit: the 1-Series sold 716, the BMW Z4 roadster and coupe sold 45 units (down from 363 last January), the putrid X6 managed only 266 sales and the spine-crunching X3 registered 394 sales. And then there are the 6-Series (304 sold) and the 7-Series at a whopping 23 units. The explanation is that the next-generation 7-Series hits BMW dealers in a few months; same for the next-gen Z4. It’s not all bad news for BMW though—the M sub-brand had a record year in 2008, with its sales rising 50% over 2007. Dealers report that the boost in sales came from offering to throw in a free tub of hair gel with each sale.

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45 Comments on “BMW Sales Down 15.5% for January; Only 23 7-Series Sold...”


  • avatar
    ckb

    “the M sub-brand had a record year in 2008″

    How much of that was due to the introduction of an all new model (M3) that is $20k cheaper than 2007′s cheapest M car (M5)? Any model breakdown there?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @ckb:

    You are correct. They sold 24,186 M cars, 18,000 of which were the M3.

    That would mean by my math, every other M model took a huge nosedive.

    What, my “free tub of hairgel” sales analysis wasn’t sufficient?

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    BMW NA is in deep doo-doo because nearly half of their sales over the last decade have come from leasing BMWs to folks that don’t have 700+ FICO scores.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Down “only” 15.5% is pretty good in this market.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I’m with Geotpf. I think everyone but Subie would be happy with -15%.

    It really is ugly out there. Could you imagine trying to sell Buicks in this environment?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Billc83,
    You beat me to the punch!

  • avatar
    Seth L

    MINI was also down ~16%

    http://www.motoringfile.com/2009/02/03/mini-usa-sales-down-155-for-january/

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    ShearbornSean:
    Could you imagine trying to sell Buicks in this environment?

    Oh how aptly stated. I think “imagine selling Buicks” is all the Buick dealers can do.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    So, BMW’s Aztek is outselling the 7-series by 10-1. I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    “BMW NA is in deep doo-doo because nearly half of their sales over the last decade have come from leasing BMWs to folks that don’t have 700+ FICO scores.”
    Unlike, uhhh, pretty much all the other brands? And why is leasing cars to subprime customers any different that selling them? Aside from drug dealers and pro athletes (sorry, that was probably redundant) who buy Lambos for cash, that’s been the only way to sell cars the last 20 years.
    At the very least, BMW poseurs tend to keep their cars shiny and (thanks to the free service) pretty well maintained.
    Granted, a lot full of very clean, low mileage repossessed cars still kills your residual values!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Hyundai is up 14%, BMW is down 15.5%. Coincidence? I think those screaming executives in the Super Bowl commercial were on to something.

    In reality I doubt much cross competition is going on, but the Genesis Coupe will be the last nail in the 1-series’ coffin.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Justin: Thanks for the hard numbers! It explains a few things.

    I live in LA, a great BMW barometer. As soon as a new model is announced, this place crawls with them. For the 1 and X6, I’ve only seen a handful, of 1s (usually 128 Cabrios) and 3.0s.

    Is the redesigned 3 out yet? There’s one in the parking garage here, but I haven’t seen any in the streets.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Areitu:

    Redesigned 3?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Bonus points for whoever can identify the “BMW” in the picture.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @ShearbornSean:

    I’m pretty sure it’s an Opel Kadett.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    SherbornSean:

    It appears to be a Pontiac LeMans (Daewoo Edition). The twin kidney grill must have thrown them off.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Oh Berkowitz, please enlighten me as to why the X6 is defined as putrid.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Upon further breakdown, it has been revealed that 50% of the sales of any 3-series and M-series BMW went to employees, friends and family members of Car and Driver.
    To an earlier post, maybe “mid-cycle refresh” 3-series sedan was the way to put it – the refresh that (finally) gets rid of the overdone chrome trim on the kidney grille, the chucking of the Corolla/Jetta-esque tail lamps, and an overall smoother front that in my opinion, did wonders for the design. It looks like a lot of the fussy details are removed…very much like the 7-series refresh a few years back.
    I’ve seen a few 09 3-series in my chunk of Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I’ve only seen a very small handful of 1-series and the X6 thing.
    When does BMW admit the disaster-in-the-making-awful-trunk-skin-graft 1-series was a huge mistake?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    like.a.kite :
    Oh Berkowitz, please enlighten me as to why the X6 is defined as putrid.

    Defined? Enlighten? It’s my opinion that the X6 is putrid, not objective fact. It’s clearly your opinion that it’s not. People are going to disagree and I’m not on the offensive against you about it.

    I don’t like the X6 because I find it ugly, heavy, cramped, and ugly. I don’t understand what it offers versus the rest of the BMW lineup when you’ve got the 5-Series, 5-Series wagon, and X5. I think it strays way too far from BMW’s brand identity. While I generally have zero interest in cars in its “segment,” I think the X6 is not as fun to drive as the Cayenne, less useful and not as good looking as the Range Rover Sport, and doesn’t offer as practical real world acceleration as the Infiniti FX50. All of that said, I think all these sport trucks are pigs and would sooner put my money into virtually anything else that’s comparably priced.

    News here comes with opinionated commentary, and that’s mine. Disagree? We love it. Heck, write an editorial in defense of the X6.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Heck, write an editorial in defense

    Fine, I will!

  • avatar
    NickR

    the putrid X6 managed only 266 sales and the spine-crunching X3 registered 394 sales. And then there are the 6-Series (304 sold)

    So, there is a downside to being hideous? Who knew!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    like.a.kite:

    Let me know if you want me to dig up any old AMC Eagle Coupe brochures on the internet. They might give you some additional points to help support your apology for of the design.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @no_slushbox:

    Actually I quite liked the old AMC Eagle Coupe…

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Ain’t no apology, hombre.

    And I still think the Eagle comparisons are irrelevant.

  • avatar
    gsp

    BMW sales are down because their cars are junk. Everybody says they hate they them but sales went up and up. Except for now they are down by a whopping 15%. That means they sold as many cars as they did in when, 2007? The flame surfacing gets flamed but other manufacturers bust their butts to bend themselves a Bangle. And their engines really, really leave a lot to be desired. iDrive is hated by everybody (except those that own it.) BMW should just give up and die.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Heck, write an editorial in defense.
    Fine, I will!

    Justin, you got served. It’s on !!

  • avatar

    gsp :

    Not a big fan of the brand, eh? Which of their cars have you driven?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Johnny Canada :

    Justin, you got served. It’s on !!

    I wasn’t just idly bluffing. BMW’s X6 is a controversial vehicle. I’d welcome reading a defense of it because any arguments in it will all be new to me.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    I wasn’t just idly bluffing. BMW’s X6 is a controversial vehicle. I’d welcome reading a defense of it because any arguments in it will all be new to me.

    Too late to back out now. It’s on !!

  • avatar
    gsp

    Robert:

    I having been driving BMW’s since 2000. But I still love a hate-on.

    I get nervous with you responding to my post. You probably have some button that you can press to see everything I have ever written and therefore see through my guarded prose.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Johnny Canada:

    Too late to back out now. It’s on !!

    Back out of what? Ball’s in the other guy’s court to write something.

    Sales stats tell me how the X6 is faring in the court of the consumer. And my experience tells me behind the wheel of what I think of the X6 regardless of sales. That’s two counts of not good Actually it’s two counts of bad.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ Justin Berkowitz :

    “Defined? Enlighten? It’s my opinion that the X6 is putrid, not objective fact.”

    No, I disagree, it IS an objective fact that the X6 is putrid.

    Also, do you know if you can you get the tub of hair gel through the BMW performance parts catalogue if you have an E36 M3?

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Justin, you really make me laugh.

    OK, it’s off !! Maybe.

  • avatar
    Hwanung

    RE: RetardedSparks
    At the very least, BMW poseurs tend to keep their cars shiny and (thanks to the free service) pretty well maintained.

    Last I checked, none of those poseurs (or 99% of the “owners” period) got that shiny memo with regards to the notorious “gunmetal” front wheels.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Justin Berkowitz:

    I do miss the days when coupes had two doors.

  • avatar
    stuki

    When states run out of cash to do what little road maintenance they have been doing, expensive low profile run flats will be both uncomfortable and expensive to run.

    Doubly so when fitted to huge, heavy wheels on 5000lbs high center of gravity vehicles.

    As for the 7, at least part of BMW’s traditional ability to be both comfortable and tightly suspended, is due to 50-50 weight distribution obsession forcing both front and rear axles forward, in the process assuring the drivers butt is perfectly centered between axels. This makes even a stiff suspension bearable. Problem is, this also puts the rear axle right under the rear seat, which is hardly where you want to sit as a passenger in a luxury car. In a 3 series, focusing on comfort for the front row is understandable. But if you buy a 7, it at least ought to have something to do with hauling passengers in the back. And I doubt many of them particularly want a Caterham style sit right on the rear axle experience when being hauled around.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    stuki:

    I can all but guarantee that riding in the back of the next 7-Series will be a joy.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I would never buy an 8 cylinder BMW. Forget it. Anecdotal evidence from the BMWs I, and my close friends, have owned tells the tale. The inline 6′s are marvelous, and the 8′s are in the shop much too often with much too high bills.
    So, I am not surprised they can’t sell the 7′s.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Justin:

    No doubt compared to a Caterham, but if it’s anything like the outgoing one, it will be noticably busier than both the non-AMG S & the LS. And, to be honest, possibly even an Avalon. Once the going gets fast, that hydraulic ram preventing lean in turns is kind of cool, though, even if it gives about the most synthetic feeling ride in existence.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    What’s significant is the breakdown of model sales. The 3-Series and X5 sold 5471 units combined—44% of BMW’s entire sales for the month of January. Add in the 2596 units of 5-Series sold and between those three models (3, 5, X5) you have twice as many cars as the rest of BMW’s lineup combined.

    And what’s also significant are the numbers within those models. The 3 and 5 Series have always been BMWs sales leaders. But they were both down big.

    The truth about BMW in January is that the X5 did very, very well year-over-year (up 23.3%), whereas everything else, including the 3 and 5 series, did poorly.

    Thanks to the X5, the entire X division was up 5%. Everything else BMW-only was down 21.3%. Mini only fell 15.2%, so BMW+mini (but not the SUVs and crossovers) was down 20.2%.

    So the story is the X5, everything else is down like everyone else; sort of interesting in that the X5 was new back in January ’08, but I suppose inventory might have been ramping up. Still a success for BMW, compared to everyone else, in that they had one successful big seller. (And is that a sign of mid-size SUVs beating out fullsize?)

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    it IS an objective fact that the X6 is putrid.

    opinion (n): a subjective thought that a person has formed about a topic or issue

    Of course it could be said that stating this definition defeats my argument against calling it something perceivably-asinine as putrid. My argument, in actuality, is that in no way does the vehicle not make sense for the company to manufacture. But I still think the adjective in question is far too silly and dramatized a word for it.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    @Hwanung:

    All that brake dust will just wash right off….!

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ like.a.kite :

    Sorry, something about the X6 causes me to use excessive hyperbole.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Landcrusher :

    I would never buy an 8 cylinder BMW. Forget it. Anecdotal evidence from the BMWs I, and my close friends, have owned tells the tale. The inline 6’s are marvelous, and the 8’s are in the shop much too often with much too high bills.
    So, I am not surprised they can’t sell the 7’s.

    I think the real reason they’re not selling 7-Series right now is, as I said in the original post, that BMW is winding down the current model. The replacement will be on lots in a few months (weeks, even), and I would bet that sales will be quite strong.

    Keep in mind also that plenty of people buying the 7-Series aren’t doing research into reliability. Especially those that are leasing or won’t own the car out of warranty.

  • avatar

    lol @ hairgel

    so perfect, so true.


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