A DEPRESSED demand for luxury vehicles sent BMW spiraling to a €153 million ($204.5 million) net loss for the first quarter, ended March 31, down from a profit of €485 million during the first three months of 2008. Group revenue declined 13.4 percent to €11.5 billion ($15.4 billion), affected largely by a 21 percent drop in the company's auto business revenue.
The German OEM's motorcycle business posted a profit of €28 million ($37.4 million), down 22.2 percent from €36 million during the same three-month period last year. Motorcycle revenue totaled €290 million ($387.4 million), down 15.9 percent from €345 million.
BMW's first quarter wholesale motorcycle deliveries totaled 17,232 units, down 18.1 percent from 21,046 delivered during the same three-month period last year. While the company sold 1,943 units in the United States, on par with first quarter sales last year, cycle sales fell 35 percent to 2,412 units in Germany, fell 45 percent to 1,030 units in Spain, fell 34.1 percent to 1,103 units in France and fell 28 percent to 3,135 units in Italy. Sales in Japan increased 1 percent to 587 units, and sales in the United Kingdom increased 9.4 percent to 1,278 units.
The OEM produced 29,111 motorcycles during the first three months of the year, up from 28,589 units produced during the first quarter of 2008. The motorcycle-related workforce decreased 2 percent to 2,958 employees.
BMW officials say they expect difficult business conditions to continue throughout the remainder of the financial year as an increasing number of corporate insolvencies and rising unemployment causes "a great deal of uncertainty." The company plans to continue to pursue its new motorcycle model initiative throughout the rest of the year in an effort to counter consumer spending reticence caused by the financial crisis, but sales of motorcycles are nevertheless expected to be lower than in the previous year.
"We do not expect the retail situation to improve significantly over the next few months and we have implemented production cuts," says Dr. Friedrich Eichiner, member of the Board of Management, BMW AG.
—Submitted by Guido Ebert