Booming sales in China propel BMW to strong profits

Booming sales in China helped propel German luxury carmaker BMW to stronger profits in the first three months of the year, even as its home market in Germany trailed behind the ongoing recovery in the global car market.

BMW said that its sales in China nearly doubled in the quarter to 230,120 vehicles, partly reflecting the shutdowns in early 2020 as China was hit first by the pandemic.

However, sales in the overall Asia region exceeded even pre-pandemic levels.

They were also up by double-digit percentages in most of Europe and in the US.

An exception was in the company’s home market in Germany, where sales dropped 5%.

The earnings underlined the German car industry’s strong connections with China; competitor Volkswagen said on Wednesday that it recorded a 61% increase in first-quarter unit sales there, helping it sharply increase profits.

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BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said that the quarter showed “our business model is a successful one, even in times of crisis”.

He said the company’s focus is on developing digitally connected, electric cars.

The company more than doubled its sales of battery and electric vehicles in the quarter over the year earlier, to 70,200.

BMW’s net profit rose to 2.83 billion euro from 574 million in the year-earlier period. Revenues rose 15% to 26.78 billion euro.

Per-vehicle profitability, defined as operating result on sales, reached 9.8%, a big increase from 1.3% in the year-earlier quarter and within the company’s long-term target range.