November US Sales Numbers in Context

Due to travel conflicts, we couldn’t put the November US sales numbers in context in timely fashion, so we decided to post the official BMW release when it came out, and the context today.

There’s no way to put this any other way than this: BMW’s November US sales numbers were bad. (And this is despite world-wide sales for the brand doing very well.) November US light vehicle rebounded for the first time after dropping for three months straight, up 3.6% when compared to a record November last year. Part of this was due to two more sales days in the month and part due to increased incentive spending (up 13%). CUVs and Pick-Ups grew 8.6% while cars dropped 3.9%.

There is new optimism in the industry that this year may actually exceed last year in total units delivered, as the surprising November rebound now has total units shipped up 6,418 compared to industry-wide deliveries last year. If December numbers are good, this would be the first time since 1919 that total sales grew for 7 straight years!

But the news at BMW USA isn’t nearly as good. With sales off 18.2% overall (passenger cars were off over 26%, this would have been much worse if the X1 weren’t classified as a car), BMW USA is doing much worse than the industry as a whole, as well as the closest luxury competitors, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus (up 0.3% and down 1%, respectively.)


BMW has dropped to the very bottom of Matt’s Luxury Index. Land Rover is the only other marque in the index that had anything as close to as bad a month. This is probably due to the Jaguar F-Pace doing so well, and at least Land Rover can console itself that it’s losing sales to an in-house competitor. To add salt to the wound, Mercedes-Benz would pretty much need to close it’s dealerships for most of December to lose the US Luxury sales crown this year, while BMW, that eked out a narrow win last year, isn’t really even in the hunt.

The BMW Press Release touted strong sales of the 7-series, X1 and X5. But President and CEO, BMW of North America Ludwig Willisch’s comments that the world-debut of the new 5-series at the Detroit Auto Show in January will lead to a compelling line-up for 2017 ring hollow, as it would have to add about 6,000 units a month to make up for declines in other models.


One interesting item is that used BMW sales for the month totaled 30,601 deliveries. This is 4,412 units more than total new car deliveries! Clearly, BMW USA is in a tough position. The expanded output at Spartanburg didn’t really turn things around. The shift away from passenger cars by the US buying public doesn’t bode well for BMW either. From where we sit, 2017 looks to be a challenge for BMW USA as well.



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  • Nick Dawson

    It surprises me that you place so much emphasis on one month’s sales figures, rather than the Year-To-Date sales figures. For the 2016 YTD, BMW is down 10% on the previous 2015 YTD, still not good but better than the headline figure of 18.2% for November.

    There are some clear indicators in the YTD figures as to the current trends in US consumers auto preferences. A good indicator is the 3-Series Sedan, BMW’s traditional best seller, down 28.6%. Sales of small Sedans generally, not just BMW, are falling.

    Conversely, sales of luxury Sedans, such as the 7-Series, are holding up well, with the 5-Series soon to be replaced by the all new G30. Likewise, small/medium SUVs continue their meteoric rise, no less so BMW’s X1 and X3 which are up 86.8% and 36.2% respectively YTD.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    Their number one problem is the market in the US has finally caught on to BMW’s games. No more will a C-grade interior, outrageous overpricing and a complete lack of driving fun be enough for the blue and white roundel to matter. I’m glad their sales are declining. I hope it jars them enough to go back to making good cars. I wouldn’t own a single BMW product today. None of them are fun to drive, none of them are attractive (inside or out) and all of them are seriously overpriced. Interior quality is at an all time low and it’s sickening to see how poorly they have moved forward since introducing the F01. Now that all cars are F or G chassis, that means every model is dull, uninspired and simply lacks the competitive features people expect their cars to offer. Every little thing is an option. Power seats, Bluetooth music streaming, real leather, xenon or led headlights, they give you no break for a manual transmission and good luck even finding one on a dealer lot. This is not the BMW that pioneered luxury performance. Todays BMW is nothing more than what Lexus was 10 years ago, except BMW still can’t compete with Lexus on reliability. All BMWs are shells of their former selves and the brand needs new leadership ASAP.