BMW and its rivals have shifted production to higher-margin models as output has been hampered by the semiconductor shortage and other supply-chain problems.
Despite delivering 6 percent fewer cars in the first quarter, BMW's auto revenue rose 17 percent compared with the same period last year.
Profitability in BMW’s auto division was behind rival Mercedes-Benz, which posted a record margin of 16.4 percent for its cars division in the first quarter.
BMW’s operating return on automaking was 8.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with analyst expectations of 7.8 percent.
Group revenue was buoyed by the full consolidation of BMW's China joint venture, which contributed 3.3 billion euros since mid-February, BMW said. In February, the automaker said it would pay 3.7 billion euros to take majority control of its Chinese JV after securing the necessary licence from Beijing.
BMW's automaking returns are expected to pick up during the second half.
In mid-April, BMW presented the new generation of its flagship 7 Series, including the i7 all-electric variant, which will go on sale in November.
An upgraded version of its high-margin X7 SUV will be sold from August onward.
Reuters contributed to this report