Compared to 2020, BMW saw some very positive signs in sales and overal financial performance. The significant recovery of the markets, which began in mid-2020, continued to gain momentum during the first three months of the year. Due to this the BMW Group set a new record for first-quarter deliveries with an increase of 33.4% compared to the previous year to 636,606 units (2020: 477,111 units).
Global sales BMW brand vehicles totalled 560,543 units (2020: 411,809 units; +36.1%). Key to this were the BMW 5 Series and BMW 3 Series, both of which recorded year-on-year growth of more than 40%. And as always the crossovers were also in high demand during the three-month timeframe.
The BMW Group continued to grow extremely dynamically in the first quarter 2021 – as demonstrated by its outstanding reported figures. The Group is systematically driving its transformation process at a high pace, reaching new milestones in terms of e-mobility, digitisation and sustainability. At the same time, it was able to strengthen its business model in the first quarter of the year and to grow further.
“The first quarter shows that our global business model is a successful one, even in times of crisis. We remain firmly on track for continued sustainable, profitable growth,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, in Munich on Friday. “Our strategy is based on retaining a keen focus on providing attractive high-tech products that are destined to shape the changing world of mobility going forward. With this clear vision, we are already developing the next major technological leaps that will continue to fascinate our customers ten years from now.”
The main thrust of the Group’s work is on digitally connected, sustainable electric mobility. The breakthrough of e-mobility has been expedited by the holistic approach adopted by the BMW Group, driven in particular by the systematic addition of electrified drivetrain technologies to its model portfolio and the target of increasing its sales of fully electric vehicles by an average of more than 50 per cent per year through to 2025. By then, the BMW Group plans to have some two million fully electric vehicles on roads worldwide, also putting it firmly on track from a strategic perspective to achieve the EU’s ambitious decarbonisation targets by 2030.
As part of this strategy, the BMW Group is keen to play a leading role in the development of battery technology. Within the framework of its second EU-coordinated ‘IPCEI’ project (‘Important Project of Common European Interest’), the focus is on developing the next generation of lithium-ion battery cells. The all-solid-state battery (ASSB) for automobiles is expected to be more cost-effective, more sustainable and optimised for the circular reuse of raw materials to take account of the increasingly limited availability of natural resources worldwide. After their deployment in vehicles, the intention is to use the batteries as stationary storage devices, with the ultimate aim of processing all their raw materials for subsequent reuse. The second IPCEI project also promotes the continued development of process technologies and the construction of a prototype production plant for innovative battery modules and systems. The BMW Group recently signed an agreement with the US company Solid Power for the industrialisation of new solid-state batteries. As part of a pilot project, the latter will supply solid-state battery cells with a higher capacity of 100 Ah already from 2022 onwards.
By adopting this sustainable reuse approach, the BMW Group intends to make a valuable contribution to preserving limited natural resources. Circularity is also a proactive way of counteracting price hikes of scarce commodities going forward.
“This example of combatting resource scarcity clearly shows how sustainability has economic as well as ecological benefits and validates the comprehensive approach to sustainability applied throughout the enterprise,” stated Oliver Zipse.
At the same time, the BMW Group is also extensively involved in expanding public and private charging infrastructures. Since 2013, it has participated in some 50 international projects with various partners, jointly installing over 15,000 public charging points. By mid-year, it will have established around 4,100 charging points for its own employees in parking areas at various Group locations, around half of which will be accessible to the general public, all powered fully by electricity from renewable sources.
The BMW Group is also fostering the rapid expansion of and ubiquitous access to an open charging infrastructure in Europe in the form of a recently agreed collaboration of the YOUR NOW subsidiary CHARGE NOW with the energy company bp (formerly: BP British Petroleum). With the same objective in mind, the BMW Group is also a co-founder and partner of Ionity and its high-power charging network. So far, Ionity has set up around 350 charging stations across Europe, with the number expected to rise to over 400 by the end of the year. These charging facilities each provide an average of four fast-charging points and are conveniently located on motorways and main traffic routes. The all-electric BMW iX3*, for instance, can be recharged within 10 minutes for a range of up to 100 km (WLTP) at one of these fast-charging points. The Ionity network is due to be successively expanded, also within towns and cities.
The BMW Group’s mission to build the ‘greenest’ electric car has been furthered by its involvement in a number of projects during the past quarter.
For example, it has concluded multi-year supply agreements with the US company Livent to purchase sustainable lithium sourced from South America. Livent utilises a special process that reduces the impact of lithium extraction on the surrounding ecosystem to a minimum.
With immediate effect, one half of the aluminium required by the light metal foundry in Landshut will be supplied by the Abu Dhabi-based company Emirates Global Aluminium. The raw material is produced using electricity generated by one of the world’s largest solar farms.
The BMW Group also has a stake in Boston Metal, a company that aims to make steel production more sustainable. Boston Metal is working on industrialising low-emission electrolysis processes for producing liquid iron.
In collaboration with the WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature), Google, Samsung SDI and Volvo, the BMW Group has launched an initiative to protect the deep seas. Accordingly, the practise of extracting minerals from deep-sea mining is considered taboo as long as the consequences have not been comprehensively scientifically investigated.
World’s largest fleet capable of over-the-air upgrades set to be on roads by end of 2021
Apart from the electric drivetrain itself, other crucial factors driving the transformation process include software systems and their digital interaction with the vehicle.
Since 2014, customers have been able to book and pay for services online directly from the vehicle via the BMW Connected Drive Store. Moreover, since 2018, BMW drivers have been able to keep vehicle connectivity up to date at all times with the help of remote software upgrades, much like they have already become used to doing with their smartphones. By the end of 2021, the BMW Group will already have the world’s largest fleet on the road, with around 2.5 million vehicles that can be updated with new and enhanced functions over the air.
The BMW iX* will be the first vehicle to feature the new BMW Operating System 8 − the most powerful data processing system devised for cars to date − enabling high-speed over-the-air upgrades, which will provide an even broader range of functions on demand that can be ordered and installed over the air at any time with complete flexibility.
BMW Group on growth course in first quarter
Compared to the previous year’s pandemic-affected first-quarter performance, key financial figures developed positively in the first three months of the financial year 2021. The significant recovery of the markets, which began in mid-2020, continued to gain momentum during the first three months of the year. Within a favourable environment, the BMW Group set a new record for first-quarter deliveries with an increase of 33.4% compared to the previous year to 636,606 units (2020: 477,111 units).
Sales of electrified vehicles more than doubled in the first quarter
Strong demand for electrified vehicles (plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles) contributed substantially to the outstanding sales performance, with deliveries more than doubling compared to the same quarter one year earlier.
This dynamic growth rate is testimony to the success of the BMW Group’s electrification strategy, with a total of 70,207 electrified vehicles delivered to customers during the three-month period (2020: 30,692 units; +128.7%), including 14,161 units of the fully electric BMW iX3*, BMW i3* and MINI Cooper SE* models (2020: 6,457 units; +119.3%). In the course of 2021, two key innovation leaders – the BMW iX* and the BMW i4* – will be added to the core segments of the BMW brand.
Significant growth in Group revenues and earnings
The greatly improved level of revenues and earnings was driven by a combination of higher sales volume figures across all regions of the world, particularly in China, and improved selling prices. Positive effects also came from the robust situation on pre-owned vehicle markets, causing revenues from the sale of previously leased vehicles to rise, above all in the USA.
Group revenues grew by 15.2% to € 26,778 million (2020: € 23,252 million; +18.9% adjusted for currency factors).
The Group’s research and development expenditure totalled € 1,287 million (2020: € 1,324 million; -2.8%), slightly lower than one year earlier, with costs arising in the first quarter 2021 primarily for electrification and digitisation as well as for preparing the production ramp-up of the BMW iX*. The increase in revenues caused the R&D ratio to fall to 4.8% (2020: 5.7%). At 22.6%, the capitalisation rate was also lower than one year earlier (2020: 28.4%).
In light of the various positive effects described above, Group profit before financial result for the three-month period rose significantly to € 3,025 million (2020: € 1,375 million; +120%).
The improved financial result also contributed to earnings growth. In particular, the Group’s share of the profit in the Chinese joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive amounting to € 503 million (2020: € 162 million) as well as positive valuation effects arising on interest rate hedges and individual investments gave rise to a significant improvement in the first-quarter financial result, which turned around from a net negative amount of € 577 million to a net positive amount of € 732 million.
Group profit before tax improved to € 3,757 million (2020: € 798 million). The EBT margin for the Group came in at 14.0% (2020: 3.4%). Group net profit amounted to € 2,833 million (2020: € 574 million).
“Profitability is a key aspect of our transformation journey. Our operational strength enables us to manage the move towards a world of digitally connected, sustainable mobility. With this aim in mind, we are investing specifically in low-emission drivetrain systems and attractive, highly innovative products and equipment. Furthermore, we continue to streamline our processes and structures in order to boost performance,” said Dr Nicolas Peter, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Finance in Munich on Friday.
Dynamic sales growth for all Group brands
Higher sales volume in the first quarter 2021 resulted in corresponding increases in Automotive segment revenues and earnings.
Worldwide deliveries of BMW brand vehicles totalled 560,543 units (2020: 411,809 units; +36.1%). The figure included excellent contributions from the highly successful BMW 5 Series and BMW 3 Series, both of which recorded year-on-year growth of more than 40%. The popular X-family models were also in high demand during the three-month period.
At 74,683 units, MINI brand sales were 16% higher than one year earlier (2020: 64,449 units; +15.9%). Demand for the MINI Countryman was extremely high, with deliveries up by more than one third (+35.9%) as well as for the John Cooper Works models (+20.5%) with their sporty flair.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars delivered 1,380 ultra-luxury automobiles to customers, the highest number ever achieved in a single quarter (2020: 853 units; +61.8%), with China, the USA and the Asia-Pacific region the biggest contributors to this growth.
Deliveries up in all major regions of the world
In Europe, the number of vehicles delivered by the BMW Group rose by a solid 8.1% to 239,018 units (2020: 221,024 units) despite the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers in Germany took delivery of 62,696 units (2020: 66,004 units; -5.0%) and customers in the UK 42,413 units (2020: 44,474 units; -4.6%). In other countries and regions of Europe such as France, Italy and northern Europe, the BMW Group recorded double-digit sales volume growth year on year.
Deliveries to customers in the Americas region rose to 96,352 units (2020: 82,078 units; +17.4%) as markets continued to pick up, most notably in the USA, where sales were up by more than one fifth to 78,067 units (2020: 64,956 units; +20.2%).
In Asia, the BMW Group delivered a total of 287,697 units, up by 77% on the same quarter last year and a new all-time high (2020: 162,940 units; +76.6%). Sales figures for China nearly doubled year-on-year, jumping by 98% to 230,193 units (2020: 116,577 units; +97.5%), partly reflecting the weaker performance one year earlier.
Automotive segment records high revenue growth
Segment revenues totalled € 22,762 million in the first quarter (2020: € 17,989 million; +26.5%, currency-adjusted +30.4%), driven primarily by the continued upward trend in sales volume. In addition, positive product mix effects due to higher sales of the X5 and X6, among other models, as well as improved price penetration boosted revenues. Revenues generated with the Chinese joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive also rose year-on-year.
Segment EBIT amounted to € 2,236 million (2020: € 229 million) and segment profit before tax to € 2,776 million (2020: € 80 million). The EBIT margin came in at 9.8% and therefore within the defined long-term target range (2020: 1.3%).
Free cash flow generated by the Automotive segment increased to € 2,522 million, mainly reflecting improved earnings before tax and continued rigorous working capital management.
Financial Services: solid increase in new business with retail customers
In total, 489,066 new credit financing and leasing contracts were signed with retail customers during the first quarter 2021, up by a solid 8.8% compared to one year earlier (2020: 449,687 contracts), mainly due to the sharp rise in credit financing business (+15.2%), particularly in China. The total volume of new credit financing and leasing contracts concluded with retail customers increased by 9.1% to € 15,351 million (2020: € 14,075 million).
Significant improvement in Financial Services segment earnings
Revenues generated by the Financial Services segment in the first quarter increased slightly to € 7,906 million (2020: € 7,598 million; +4.1%) due to positive effects from business with end-of-contract leasing vehicles.
Earnings improved at an even more pronounced rate, largely thanks to the improved risk situation on the one hand and higher marketing revenues from the sale of returned lease vehicles on the other, particularly on the US market, with segment profit before tax rising to € 787 million (2020: € 484 million; +62.6%). The Financial Services segment makes provision on an ongoing and comprehensive basis to take account of significant business risks. Current assessments confirm that residual value and credit risks are appropriately covered.
Remainder of year expected to remain volatile
The coronavirus pandemic will continue to influence the course of business for the BMW Group throughout the current financial year − both directly and indirectly. Vaccination measures being taken worldwide should, however, have a positive effect on the situation and increasingly reduce the adverse impact of the pandemic on global economic growth. Nevertheless, negative consequences for the BMW Group cannot be ruled out in the further course of the year. Furthermore, rising raw materials prices could have a dampening impact on earnings going forward. In light of the current dynamic environment, the BMW Group reaffirms its outlook for the full year, expecting business performance continuing to develop positively. New models and digital services covering various aspects of individual mobility are likely to ensure that demand remains buoyant. Group profit before tax is therefore predicted to rise significantly during the outlook period.
The Automotive segment is expected to record a solid year-on-year increase in the number of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles delivered to customers. The segment’s EBIT margin is set to improve significantly on the previous year’s figure and come in at the upper end of the forecast range between 6 and 8%, with segment RoCE therefore also improving significantly. Segment free cash flow is likely to exceed € 4 billion over the year as a whole.
In the Financial Services segment, the Return on Equity (RoE) is forecast to come in at the upper end of the range between 12 and 15%.
The Motorcycles segment is expected to record a solid increase in deliveries to customers. The EBIT margin is predicted to lie within a target range of 8 to 10%, enabling the segment to record a significantly higher level of RoCE than one year earlier.
The BMW Group also reaffirms its forecast for non-financial performance indicators. Accordingly, the proportion of women in management functions is expected to increase slightly. At the same time, the BMW Group is targeting a further significant reduction in the carbon emissions generated by its new vehicle fleet. According to current forecasts, carbon emissions per vehicle produced are likely to fall moderately.
The Group’s targets for the year are to be met with a slightly smaller workforce. Ongoing uncertainty – particularly regarding the further course of the corona pandemic, macroeconomic and political developments as well as international trade and customs policies – could have a negative impact on economic conditions in many regions. These eventualities could hold down growth and thereby have a further significant impact on the business performance of the BMW Group.