The BMW brand maintained its position as the world's leading premium company during the period under report and, for the first time in its history, sold more than 400,000 vehicles in the first quarter of a financial year. Worldwide sales rose by 12.3% to 428,259 units (2013: 381,404 units). The BMW 3, 5 and 6 Series as well as the X5 each headed the market in their respective segments.
The various models of the BMW X family were significant growth drivers in the first three months of the year. Sales of the BMW X1 rose by 14.8% to 43,262 units (2013: 37,680 units), while the BMW X3 achieved an increase of 10.9% to 40,125 units (2013: 36,189 units). The new BMW X5 continues to sell very well, with first-quarter sales volume up by 13.8% to 31,025 units (2013: 27,274 units).
The BMW 3 Series also experienced another successful quarter with sales rising to 116,671 units (2013: 109,309 units; +6.7%). Equally successful was the performance of the BMW 5 Series, which recorded a sales volume of 91,600 units (2013: 85,731 units; +6.8%). Sharp growth was also registered for the BMW 6 Series, with sales up by 33.2% to 8,223 units (2013: 6,174 units). The BMW flagship, the 7 Series, achieved a 2.3% increase to 12,670 units (2013: 12,390 units).
Demand for the BMW i3 continues to be high. 2,022 units of this innovative electric vehicle were sold worldwide in the first quarter and sales figures are set to continue rising over the coming months as more vehicles become available (a large number of the vehicles produced to date has been delivered to various markets for demonstration and showroom purposes). The sales figure for March alone was in the region of 1,000 units. Production ramp-up for the i3 has continued in line with schedule in recent weeks and some 100 vehicles are currently being manufactured each day. The i3's initial launch in Europe was followed up in April by its introduction in the USA, which promises to be the vehicle's largest market.
In line with expectations, first-quarter sales of MINI vehicles decreased to 57,868 units (2013: 66,154 units; -12.5%), owing to the change of the brand's core model - the new MINI Hatch - which began delivery in March. The MINI Countryman recorded 6.6% sales volume growth to 25,108 units (2013: 23,559 units), while the MINI Paceman jumped to 4,075 units (2013: 729 units). Interest in the new MINI Hatch is extremely high and expected to have a positive impact on the MINI brand's sales figures from summer onwards.
Rolls-Royceremains the world’s leading manufacturer in the ultra-luxury segment. After four record years in succession, the trend continued in the first quarter 2014, with a total of 897 Rolls-Royce cars delivered to customers worldwide (2013: 642 units; +39.7%). Demand continues to be high for the various models of the Phantom and Ghost families. Similarly, order book figures for the new Rolls-Royce Wraith are also at a very healthy level.
The BMW Group achieved first-quarter growth in numerous markets, with sales volume gains recorded in all major regions.
Despite some challenging conditions still to be faced in a number of markets, first-quarter sales in Europe rose by 3.4% to 214,210 units (2013: 207,243 units).
In Asia, the number of cars sold climbed by 21.8% to 158,582 units (2013: 130,219 units). Mainland China saw a 25.4% increase in deliveries to 108,143 units (2013: 86,224).
First-quarter sales in the Americas region rose by 3.5% to 99,840 units (2013: 96,488 units), including 81,248 units sold in the USA (2013: 79,117 units; +2.7%).
Higher sales volume, revenues and earnings for Motorcycles segment
The Motorcycles segment benefited greatly from the mild winter in Europe, which effectively brought forward the start of the motorcycling season. First-quarter revenues rose by 8.3% to € 472 million (2013: € 436 million). EBIT jumped by 25.5% to € 64 million (2013: € 51 million) and profit before tax by 26.0% to € 63 million (2013: € 50 million). At both levels, these figures represented the best quarterly earnings performance in the history of the Motorcycles segment.
A new sales volume record was also set for the three-month period from January to March, with 28,719 units sold (2013: 24,732 units; +16.1%). The new R nineT, S 1000 R, R 1200 RT and K 1600 GTL Exclusive models presented the previous autumn were all launched in time for the start of the season in March. The C evolution electric scooter will make its appearance in dealership showrooms from May onwards.
Financial Services remains on course
The Financial Services segment continued to perform well throughout the first quarter 2014. Revenues edged up by 1.2% to € 4,890 million (2013: € 4,830 million). Profit before tax rose by 2.4% to € 460 million (2013: € 449 million).
The number of new financing and lease contracts signed in the period from January to March rose worldwide by 2.3% to 348,072 contracts (2013: 340,328 contracts). The portfolio of lease and financing contracts in place with dealers and retail customers at 31 March 2014 rose by 6.8% to a total of 4,170,318 contracts (2013: 3,905,891 contracts).
The number of employees as of 31 March 2014 was 4.6% higher than a year ago. Overall, the BMW Group had a worldwide workforce of 111,378 employees (31 March 2013: 106,470 employees). The increase was attributable to the growing need for engineers and skilled workers in order to keep pace with continued strong demand on the one hand and to forge ahead with innovations and the development of new technologies on the other.
BMW Group reaffirms targets for current year
Based on its strong performance in the first quarter, the BMW Group reaffirms its outlook for 2014. Within a challenging market environment, sales volume (2013: 1,963,798 units) and Group profit before tax (2013: € 7,913 million) are both expected to rise to new record levels.
"We are on course to achieve significant sales volume growth in the current year, leading to a new all-time high of over two million vehicles", Reithofer confirmed.
The planned growth in sales volume is also likely to be reflected in Group profit before tax: "We are aiming for a new record Group profit before tax figure, which will be significantly higher than in the previous year", Reithofer explained. The pace at which earnings increase will be influenced, however, by high levels of expenditure for new technologies, fierce competition and rising personnel expenses.
The Automotive segmentforecasts a significant rise in revenues in 2014 on the back of the expected strong demand for BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles. The scale of the increase could, however, be held down somewhat by currency factors. An EBIT margin within a corridor of between 8 and 10% (2013: 9.4%) remains the target for the Automotive segment. At the same time, the BMW Group will continue to invest substantial amounts in new technologies in order to extend its lead in the field of innovation and in the premium segment.
Tailwind is also likely to be provided by the 16 new models including model revisions which the BMW Group plans to launch in the current year, including the 4 Series Gran Coupé and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in June as well as the BMW X4 in July 2014. The 2 Series Active Tourer will go on sale in the fourth quarter.
The Motorcycles segment is also expected to continue to perform well over the year as a whole. Despite tough conditions on international motorcycle markets, sales are forecast to be slightly up on the previous year (2013: 115,215 units).
The Financial Services segment should also remain on growth course in 2014. As a consequence of related investments, the return on equity is likely to drop slightly (2013: 20.2%), but is still set to surpass the BMW Group's minimum required level of 18%.
The Group's forecasts for the current year are based on the assumption that political and economic conditions remain stable in 2014.