The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported March sales of 21,125 vehicles, a decrease of 22.9 percent over the 27,404 vehicles sold in the same month of 2008. For the first quarter, The BMW Group also reported a year-to-date sales volume of 51,244 vehicles, down 25.2 percent, compared to 68,529 vehicles sold in the same period a year ago.

BMW Brand Sales

Sales of BMW brand vehicles decreased 24.2 percent in March for a total of 17,520 vehicles compared to 23,115 vehicles reported in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW brand sales were down 26.8 percent, to 42,731 vehicles compared to 58,365 vehicles sold in the same period of 2008.

“In March, we saw a mixed cocktail of good, bad and ugly signals in the market and for us, I ‘m happy to say we ‘re starting to see a bit more of the good,” said Jim O’Donnell, President of BMW of North America, LLC. “Our sales were stronger than expected back at the beginning of the month and a bit of spring lift puts us in the premium market lead in March and the first quarter as well. No celebrating, however, because further loosening of the credit reins is needed to see even more buying action. ”

Over the next months, BMW of North America expects sales to be bolstered by new products coming to market. The fifth generation of the BMW 7 Series went on sale in the U.S. in March and the new BMW Z4 will arrive at U.S. dealerships in May.

See additional video commentary by Wayne Orchowski, Vice-President, BMW Sales, BMW of North America, LLC, regarding BMW’s performance in March.

BMW Automobile Sales

BMW’s automobile sales are down 23.2 percent in March to 14,767 versus 19,231 in the same month of 2008. Year-to-date sales also decreased 25.8 percent, to 34,240 automobiles compared to 46,153 in the first three months 2008.

BMW Sports Activity Vehicle Sales

Sales of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles decreased 29.1 percent in March to 2,753 vehicles over the 3,884 sold in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, sales of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles were down 30.5 percent, to 8,491 vehicles compared to 12,212 sold in the same period a year ago.

MINI Brand Sales

MINI USA reported sales of 3,605 automobiles, down 15.9 percent from the 4,289 cars sold in March 2008. For the first quarter, MINI USA also reported sales of 8,513 automobiles, a decrease of 16.2 percent, compared to the 10,164 cars reported in March 2008.

“Like the swallows from Capistrano, we ‘re seeing March bring some life to our segment, ” said Jim McDowell, Vice-President of MINI USA. “MINI sales are still tracking below last year but the gap has remained stable throughout the first quarter, and more people are configuring cars on the internet – all signs of cautious optimism that the traditional spring lift will happen again this year.”

The new MINI Cooper and Cooper S Convertible are the latest additions to MINI’s product line-up in the U.S. Both products arrived at MINI dealerships last month. This month, the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible follows.