Doubtless they knew it was coming, but there will have still been much wincing at Mercedes-AMG this morning as BMW announced that M division is now the performance segment’s biggest manufacturer. AMG sales grew by an impressive 11.8 per cent to 132,136 units in 2019, but sales at BMW’s sports arm catapulted by 32.2 per cent, with the Bavarian division shifting 135,829 cars in the same period. The achievement is a first for BMW, no doubt driven in part by the company’s larger than ever model portfolio and a 90 per cent growth in its dealer network since 2014. Not even the brand itself anticipated such growth; only three years back it had tentatively expected to reach 100k sales by 2020…
Unsurprisingly, BMW said the launch of the X3 and X4 M models helped increase its reach, along with the ever-popular M2, and even the M8 and M8 Grand Coupe yielded strong results. The US remains the biggest buyer of M models with 44,442 cars sold, with Germany and the UK holding second and third rank as before, accounting for 26,110 and 17,688 units respectively. AMG’s top three biggest markets were identical in order, with the Affalterbach firm – which launched its GT 4-door last year – actually breaking its previous records in Britain and sixth-placed Japan. Nevertheless, its rival’s growth was too strong to keep up with.
It means that despite some jeering from longstanding M fans at the firm’s growing line-up of SUVs and crossovers – not to mention the increasing presence of M-fettled models – the numbers really do speak for themselves. Turns out that tending to today’s market demands for more jacked-up performance cars and increasingly attainable M-badged cars does wonders for overall sales performance (shock). Audi Sport, despite not having put its 2019 numbers out yet, is expected to finish in the bronze medal position.
BMW’s momentum shows no signs of slowing in 2020 with confirmation that its next M3 and M4 models are due to arrive in the coming months. History shows that these models typically account for a significant portion of overall M demand. AMG’s next C63 model – which, as you may remember, is switching to hybrid four-pot power – isn’t expected to arrive until 2021, meaning that BMW will likely have the upper hand for 2020, too. That being said, given today’s market, it might only take the launch of one more AMG SUV for the 3,693 deficit to be swiftly closed.