The BMW Group’s worldwide sales fell by 8.4% in 2020, with strong performance from its M division, premium BMW models and electrified cars helping reduce the impact of pandemic disruption.

The German manufacturer sold 2,324,809 vehicles across its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands – fewer than 2019, as with other car firms hit by the impact of the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

The group’s sales did recover later in the year, with the 686,069 vehicles sold in the final quarter of the year marking a 3.2% increase on the same period in 2019.

The 2,028,659 sales of BMW models represented a 7.2% year-on-year decline, but BMW noted that the overall decline was tempered by growth in two key areas. Sales of its most profitable luxury models – the 7 Series, 8 Series and X7 – rose by 12.4% year on year to 115,420 units. 

BMW M, the firm’s rapidly expanding performance division, achieved its best-ever sales, with the 144,218 units it delivered up 5.9% year on year. BMW says that growth was driven by SUVs, such as the X6 M. That growth could continue in 2021, with the new M3 saloon and M4 coupé due on sale shortly.

Mini sold 292,394 cars in 2020, a 15.8% year-on-year decline. That total included 17,580 examples of the new Mini Electric. Its John Cooper Works performance models also performed strongly, with the 20,565 sold representing a 20.8% year-on-year increase.

Rolls-Royce sales fell 26.4% to 3756, with the firm attributing the decline in part to the best-selling Ghost saloon being off sale while the recently launched Mk2 version was introduced.

The BMW Group also recorded encouraging growth of its electrified models, including electric BMW i models, various i Performance-branded plug-in hybrids and the Mini Electric.

The 192,646 electrified BMW and Mini models sold in 2020 represented a 31.8% year-on-year increase, with EV sales up 13% and PHEV sales up 38.9%. 

The success of BMW’s electrified models ensured the firm was able to meet its European Union fleet-average CO2 emissions targets, avoiding potential penalties.

BMW sales boss Pieter Nota said the company “over-fulfilled” its targets and was “even able to go below the mandatory limit by a few grams”.

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