Editor's note: The BMW and Mini brands sold a combined 37,457 vehicles in China in May. A previous version of this story had an incorrect total.
BMW brand's global sales rose 4 percent in May to 159,129 vehicles helped by strong demand in the U.S. and Europe's continued recovery, both of which offset the automaker's sales decline in China last month.
Combined sales of the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands rose 5.9 percent to 188,287 vehicles, making it the best May ever for the group, the automaker said in a statement today.
Meanwhile, combined BMW and Mini sales in China dipped 4.2 percent to 37,457 vehicles in May compared with the same month last year. BMW brand's volume in China fell 5.5 percent to 34,870 vehicles during the month while Mini's sales rose 18 percent to 2,587 in May, according to figures from the automaker.
A company spokeswoman said that the BMW brand's sales decline last month in China was a result of the market's ongoing normalization process as well as having two fewer sales days than the previous year. She added that BMW anticipated this could happen, especially given the strong sales it had in May 2014. The last time BMW brand reported sales that failed to exceed the previous year's monthly total was January 2005. That was also the last time the combined BMW and Mini sales failed to beat the previous year's monthly total.
Mini, SUVs on the rise
Global deliveries at Mini rose 18 percent to 28,831 in the month, buoyed by the recent introduction of its new three- and five-door hatchbacks.
BMW said monthly deliveries of SUVs helped to boost sales, with demand for the X5 rising 25 percent and X6 sales up 44 percent. So far this year, the automaker has sold 10,490 vehicles from its i subbrand. The i3 compact hatchback has accounted for 8,256 of those sales and the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar for 2,234.
BMW is under pressure in China from a cooling economy, a government move to rein in luxury car prices, a trial program allowing unauthorized dealers to sell imported cars and tensions with Chinese dealership groups. Despite those challenges, BMW Group deliveries in the world's biggest car market rose 3 percent in the first five months to 190,427. That increase was led by BMW brand's 3.3 percent rise to 179,133 units during the first five months of the year.
Through May BMW brand sales increased 5.2 percent to 759,609 while Mini sales increased by 26 percent to 129,910 in the same period. Group sales rose 7.7 percent to 890,937.
Automotive News Europe and Reuters contributed to this report