BMW sees renewed coronavirus risk to Q4 sales after strong Q3

BMW Group said Nov. 4 its vehicle sales increased in the third quarter but warned that a resurgent wave of coronavirus infections is the biggest risk for the global economy and will impact its business into 2021.

BMW said auto sales increased 8.6% in Q3 to 675,592 units from the year earlier, while nine months sales fell 12.5% to 1.64 million units, in an earnings report. Against the general trend was BMW’s 37% increase in electrified car sales over the first nine months of the year.

Europe, BMW’s biggest auto market, saw a 19.7% decline in overall auto deliveries over the nine-month period, with the US down 26%. China, where the group operates through joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive, was up 6.4%.

The auto industry, a major user of steel and aluminum, as well as a growing consumer of battery metals, has seen sales hit by lower demand this year across many regions and segments. BMW expects potential for weaker fourth-quarter sales due to coronavirus-related disruptions, and full-year sales to be lower than in 2019.

“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, the current rate of infection, especially in Europe, makes this abundantly clear,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said in a statement. “The virus will remain the biggest of many risks for the global economy in the foreseeable future. New lockdowns could severely impact our business development in the fourth quarter and early 2021.”

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, BMW envisaged a slight increase in auto sales in 2020, and the spread of the coronavirus slowed BMW’s worldwide vehicle sales.

“We now expect global sales in 2020 to be much lower than last year,” BMW added.

Lower vehicles production and sales led European flat steel prices to fall earlier this year, as declines in productivity weakened demand for premium steel raw materials such as iron ore pellets and higher quality met coke and coking coal.

Volkswagen Group on Oct. 29 said auto deliveries fell 18.7% to 6.5 million units in the first nine months of 2020, and full-year sales would be “significantly below” 2019’s 11 million units.

VW did not break out Q3 deliveries in its interim report. Calculations by Platts using earlier company data may have seen group volumes little changed on Q3 2019 deliveries.

Daimler AG on Oct. 23 said group unit sales fell 8% to 772,700 units in Q3, from the year earlier, and highlighted a significant decrease in all of its auto categories for the full year.

Groupe Renault said Oct. 23 it sold 806,320 vehicles in Q3, down 6.1% from a year earlier.

PSA Group saw consolidated sales 12.7% lower at 589,000 units in Q3 on a year earlier, mainly due to a slowdown in Europe, in a Oct. 28 report.

— Hector Forster